Q: What spooky celebration occurs on 31st October?
If you answered “Halloween”, wash your mouth out with soap and come back when you’re a patriot. The 31st of October is “Hop-Tu-Naa”, a spooky day that is completely, utterly different from any other, thanks. And what makes it different is that it is distinctly Manx.
Hop-Tu-Naa is the less glamorous sister of Halloween. Halloween is full Hollywood, while Halloween is full.. Cregneash. Halloween has Heidi Klum in full special effects makeup holding an annual Halloween party full of celebrities, Hop-Tu-Naa is people in polyester costumes rubbing against each other in the Outback, carefully avoiding causing friction in case they set themselves on fire. It’s a rough and ready holiday, and that’s it’s charm.
I think the most perfect example of this is the fact that we carve turnips (or moots, if you’re that Manx) instead of pumpkins. Turnips are, undoubtedly, a bit shit. They are completely impractical to cut and absolutely stink: but driving your kids all the way out to Cregneesh to carve some turnips is a good way to fill a morning in October half-term. If you do decide to carve at home, you’ll be stuck trying to work out what we can do with the innards of a turnip- whereas our American friends know that the pumpkin is a star ingredient in many autumnal treats- everything from soups to pies. I mean Christ, think how popular the Pumpkin Spice Latte is. No one has ever made a turnip-flavoured syrup to make a Turnip Spiced Latte. Trust me. I’ve pitched it.
My favourite thing about Hop-Tu-Naa is how it’s just a little bit deranged. Elsewhere in the world, kids knock on the door, say ‘trick or treat’, and fuck off home to enjoy their spoils. Here, we force children to sing for a few treat size mars bars. Normal behaviour.
If you don’t think that’s odd, there’s also a strange amount of traditions for finding a husband. This includes making a grotty cake of such delectable treats as eggshells and soot, eating it and then heading to bed without saying a word. If you can survive all that, you should see the person you’re destined to marry in a dream. I’d probably just stick to Tinder, honestly- though you can expect an equally nauseating time.
Hop-Tu-Naa is a holiday steeped in Manx heritage. But, more importantly, it is truly just a bit batshit- and aren’t our batshit ways the best thing about being Manx?
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