As the rest of the British Isles prepares to celebrate Halloween on the 31st October, the Isle of Man will celebrate Hop Tu Naa, an old unbroken Manx tradition.

Here are 10 quirky facts you may not know about Hop Tu Naa:


Hop Tu Naa is the oldest continuous Manx tradition where people, back in the day, would celebrate the safe gathering of the harvest and the preparations that had been made for the long winter ahead.


Celebrated on the 31st October, it is the Manx equivalent of Halloween and derives from 'Shoh ta'n Oie' ('This is the Night' in Manx Gaelic).


Also known as Oie Houney (November eve) or Hollantide, it marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the start of winter.


Old customs included:

  • Setting fire to gorse to ward off bad faeries
  • Predicting the future via Soddag Valloo (a ‘dumb cake’ girls made and ate which supposedly showed signs of their future husbands)
  • Going around the houses signing rhymes and asking for rewards


Turnips, also known as ‘moots’, are traditionally carved as opposed to pumpkins.


Back in the olden days, it was customary for children to knock on people’s doors with turnip lanterns and receive pieces of bonnag, herring or potatoes instead of sweets.


The Manx Gaelic song “Jinny the Witch”, still sung by children to this day, is based on the real life witch trials of a Manx woman named Joney Lowney who was tried at Bishop’s Court for witchcraft in 1715 and 1716.

Jinny the Witch went over the house
To get the stick to lather the mouse
Hop tu naa, my mother's gone away
And she won't be back until the morning


Hop Tu Naa is said to bring good fortune in some eyes.


A Manx superstition included filling your mouth with water, holding a pinch of salt in each hand and listening at a neighbour’s door to their conversation; the first name mentioned was supposedly the name of your future husband.


Hop Tu Naa is a time for getting together with your family, having fun and celebrating. People gather for singing, dancing, storytelling, divination games, cooking and turnip carving.