What’s the difference between Hop tu Naa and Halloween?

Manx Heritage, Cross stitch Isle of Man, Crafts Isle of Man, Cross-stitch Isle of Man, Cross stitch Kits Isle of Man

Carving Tunips at Cregneash @ Crafty Cat.im

Emily Jones, 11 and Lizzie Jones, 9 carving their Tunips at Cregneash

As the rest of the British Isles prepares to celebrate Halloween on October 31, many Manx residents will celebrate Hop tu Naa.

Historically Hop tu Naa has been considered to be the Celtic New Year, marking the end of the summer and the beginning of winter.

It was traditionally a time when people would celebrate the safe gathering of the harvest.

A sign that all preparations had been made for the long, cold winter ahead.

Whilst the 31 October may be known to many as Halloween, any Manxman (or woman for that matter) worth his salt will give you the sternest of looks and tell you the festival in question is Hop-tu-naa.

This custom of singing around the houses goes back into history, although the turnip lanterns now irrevocably linked with the practice only seem to appear around 100 years ago.

With the passing of time and mixing of cultures as "incomers" to the island bring their own customs, things do become rather confused and today many see Halloween and Hop-tu-Naa as one and the same.

Turnip lanterns at Cregneash @ CraftyCat Isle of Man

Children with their turnip lanterns at Cregneash in 2009

No Connection

In reality there’s no connection. Hop-tu-naa is really a celebration of "Oie Houney", the original New Year’s Eve. As such it is pretty much the sole reminder of these ancient times and "Hop-tu-naa" itself is a corruption of "Shogh ta’n Oie", meaning "this is the night".

However, the Celtic new year was moved to the secular new year on 01 January, a move still remembered in Scotland where "Hogmanay" (from the same root words) is still celebrated.

The Celtic year was divided into quarters and "Sauin", or New Year was celebrated in "Mee Houney", the Manx for November. The fact remains, like it or not, the two festivals are very much linked for many young practitioners.

How many Hop-Tu-Naaers know the words to the traditional Manx Gaelic song? The answer is very few – although it’s to be hoped a recent resurgence of interest in Manx Gaelic and the formation of a Manx speaking playgroup and primary school may help rectify this situation.

Today the chances are you will be treated to a rendition, or more likely part-rendition, of "Ginnie the Witch" a song which seemingly adds to the confusion between Hop-tu-Naa and Halloween despite having been around for a good number of decades.

If you’re less lucky, you may be assailed with another presumably none Manx variant, "The witches of Halloween" (ooo-oooh), but few will be serenaded with the original Manx Song "Shoh shenn oie Houiney, Hop-tu-naa, T’an eayst soilshean, Trol-la-laa" or "this is old Hollandtide night/The moon shines bright".

Pumpkins @ CraftyCat.im

Pumpkins are more traditionally linked with Halloween

And what of the lanterns? A proper Hop-tu-Naaer will have a hollowed out turnip the size of a man’s head, with flickering eyes, and jagged mouth illuminated from within by a candle.

A good turnip lantern is worth a pound of anyone’s money, safe in the knowledge that someone, though probably not the little cherub on your doorstep, has suffered sprained wrists and blistered thumbs scooping it out.

Tragically there is now a much-preferred soft option, the pumpkin. True, they make very nice lanterns but they’re really not in the same league. Cut the top off, turn it upside down and the insides practically fall out.

This American import goes hand-in-turnip with that other transatlantic custom, Trick or Treat, in which a devil mask and bin liner are all that’s needed to do the rounds, with the threat of a trashed flowerbed if the homeowner isn’t forthcoming with a couple of quid.

Three customs muddled into one night – it can only be the Isle of Man. Hop-tu-naa it seems has a confused present and an uncertain future, but it’s to be hoped it does survive; a generation of children deprived of the smell of burning turnip would be a poorer one indeed.


This year Manx National Heritage will host a range a celebrations including traditional turnip (not pumpkin!) carving at Cregneash.

Hop tu Naa @ CraftyCat Isle of Man

Carving turnip lanters is a Hop tu Naa tradition

Andrew Metcalfe, Museums and Sites Manager for Manx National Heritage said: "The event is a great opportunity for everyone to find out more about the customs and traditions of Manx Hop tu Naa.

"Children will be given the opportunity to make and decorate their own turnip lanterns to take home and take part in other various activities associated with the festive occasion."

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The Brownies & the Mystery of the Missing Castle Rushen Ruby

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On Friday 17 September and Friday 8 October almost 300 Brownies and 50 Brownie leaders from all over the Island took part in the ‘Big Brownie Lock In’ at the Manx Museum. They thought they were coming to the Museum to watch a film – but their real mission was to solve the mystery of the missing Castle Rushen Ruby!

Brownies find the Ruby has been stolen from the Manx Museum!The Brownies arrived at the Museum at 6:00pm to learn that the world famous ‘Castle Rushen Ruby’ had been stolen from the Art Gallery, and they had to work in teams to solve the clues and locate the Ruby. With the help of the Police, Girlguiding volunteers and Manx National Heritage staff the Brownies were able to have a go at lifting finger prints, analysing hand writing samples, examining evidence, seeking out secret passageways, DNA swabbing and interviewing suspects. The Brownie teams then reported their findings back to the Police in the incident room. After examining the evidence in more detail, and with the help of some incriminating CCTV footage, the Brownies soon caught the culprit who was promptly handcuffed and taken to Douglas Police Station for further questioning. As a reward for all their efforts the girls then watched the film ‘Night at the Museum’.

The ‘Big Brownie Lock In’ was jointly organised by Manx National Heritage and Girlguiding Isle of Man to celebrate the Girlguiding Centenary. Katie King, Community Outreach & Learning Support Officer, for Manx National Heritage said “When Girlguiding Isle of Man asked Manx National Heritage whether the Brownies could ‘take over’ the Manx Museum as part of their Centenary Celebrations we were intrigued! We really wanted to make sure the girls had a memorable night, and the idea to stage a fake ‘burglary’ was formed.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Sergeant Wendy Barker and Sergeant Dean Johnson, and their team of Specials, for putting so much effort into the two evenings and adding realistic quality to the event. I would also like to thank the Museum staff who became our cast of ‘suspects’ for the night – especially as the Brownies treated them all with such suspicion! The Brownies were fantastic at solving the clues, I’m sure a lot of them will make excellent police officers when they get older!”

Julie Farrar, Girlguiding Isle of Man Lead Volunteer Museum Centenary Events, said “the opportunities that have been made available for Girlguides in association with MNH during our centenary year have been outstanding and for one Brownie, Olivia Marshall, making her Brownie promise underneath the huge Irish Elk was definitely her “mountain top moment”! Our sincere thanks also go to Katie and the staff at the museum and to Sergeant Barker and her team for their professionalism and enthusiasm.”

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Manx Museum Victorian Events Isle of Man

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BBC TV’s Ruth Goodman to appear in the Isle of Man

Manx National Heritage and the Isle of Man Victorian Society are pleased to announce that Ruth Goodman will run two fascinating events at the Manx Museum during October.

Ruth Goodman is best-known as the presenter of popular BBC educational documentary series ‘Victorian Farm’, and more recently ‘Victorian Pharmacy’.

Ruth Goodman Victorian Farm @ Crafty Cat.imThe first event will be a lecture on ‘The Victorian Farm’ at the Manx Museum on Friday 15th October 2010. In her lecture, Ruth will look back on her year working on the Victorian Farm in Shropshire, which was filmed as a historical documentary series following a team who live the life of Victorian farmers for a year. Ruth will revisit the highs and lows and the many lessons that the year taught her from the un-reality of reality TV to the difficulties of coal as a fuel.

Produced for BBC 2 by Lion Television, this documentary saw a team of three historians, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman, recreate rural life as it might have been in 1885. With viewing figures of more than six million for each episode, Victorian Farm has proven enormously popular with audiences throughout the UK.

Anthea Young, Education Officer for Manx National Heritage commented: “We are delighted to welcome such a high profile speaker to the Isle of Man and very much look forward to hearing about Ruth Goodman’s experience working on ‘Victorian Farm’, including ‘life behind the scenes’ on this fascinating programme. In addition, for anyone interested in Historical Clothing or an interest in fashion, Ruth will be hosting a workshop on Understanding Historical Clothing, which is certainly something not to be missed.

Ruth will use her expertise in this area to examine historical clothing and show how cutting and pattern drafting techniques employed at different times in the past affected the look and hang of a garment as well as influencing the way it was worn”.

The lecture on ‘Victorian Farm’ will take place at the Manx Museum on 15th October 2010 at 7.30pm until 9pm. Doors open at 7pm. The ‘Understanding Historical Clothing’ Workshop will take place at the Manx Museum on Saturday 16th October from 10am to 1pm.

Tickets for the lecture cost £10.00, with a discounted price of £5.00 to members of the Friends of Manx National Heritage, Isle of Man Victorian Society and children. Tickets for the workshop cost £30 per person. The workshop is strictly limited to 20 places and anyone interested is encouraged to buy tickets now to secure a place. All tickets are available from the Manx Museum Heritage Shop, House of Manannan or online at www.manxheritageshop.com.

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Archaeology Exhibition Isle of Man, Manx Museum Douglas

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Archaeology Isle o man @ Crafty Cat IOMReplica Bronze Armband @ Crafty Cat Isle of ManReplica Bronze Sword @ Crafty Cat Isle of man

During archaeological excavations at Ronaldsway two years ago, the skeleton of a man was found that bore the marks of a violent death. He had died nearly three thousand years ago during the Bronze Age. A new exhibition at the Manx Museum looks at the evidence so far uncovered from the Island to paint a picture of his time – a time of technological advances, artistic expression and climate change and also offers the first opportunity to see the sole possession buried with the man.

Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology for Manx National Heritage said: ‘This exhibition gives us the chance to talk in more detail about one of the most interesting periods of Manx history. This is part of prehistory – the Vikings were two thousand years into the future – but the wealth of information we have about Manx society in around 1000 BC is fantastic. There’ll be artefacts on show that haven’t been displayed before, as well as replicas to show some of the bronze artefacts in their original glory. Also on display for the first time will be the only possession found with the skeleton unearthed at Ronaldsway.’

The Bronze Age in the Isle of Man ran from around 2000 BC to 600 BC. Houses, burial sites and artefact find spots from this era occur all over the Island. This was the time that saw the first use of metal, the development of art and decoration and a change in ceremonies commemorating the dead.

The recent extension of the runway at Ronaldsway Airport prompted an important archaeological dig at the site before valuable information about our forebears was lost forever. Local Archaeologist Andrew Johnson, from Manx National Heritage, stated that work which had taken place at the site of Ronaldsway Airport in 1936, when it was known as the Ronaldsway Aerodrome, revealed some interesting finds. Workers initially found a sizable number of ancient graves, but close by were many skeletons thrown together in a random fashion. This led to speculation that what they had discovered was a mass grave and inevitably associating this gruesome find with soldiers killed in the bloody Battle of Ronaldsway in 1275.
Later in 1943 with further developments underway other interesting finds were unearthed, including the famous Neolithic house. Measuring 24’ x 13’ and with a hearth near its centre pottery also found on the site was thought to be of crude design, but axes and arrowheads also located  were reported to be of good standard.
But recent excavations at Ronaldsway unearthed a fine example of a Mesolithic dwelling, which came as something of a surprise as people from this period were not thought to live in houses! Considered to be approximately 8,000 years old it is far older than anything else discovered at this site. Living and feeding close to nature lots of microliths were also found. Usually made of flint this was a small stone tool worked to a sharp edge and used to form the points of hunting weapons. The discovery of a circle of post-holes suggested that the Mesolithic house was structured not unlike a tepee.
Inordinately fond of shell fish a large number of discarded shells were found at the site, but Andrew Johnson believes that foraging was not the onerous task we might believe and that the Island was a good place to live even then.
Right from the beginning valuable close co-operation was initiated between the engineers, archaeologists and the Isle of Man Government which ultimately paid dividends.
During archaeological excavations at Ronaldsway, the skeleton of a man who died during the Bronze Age was found bearing the marks of a violent death.  A new exhibition at the Manx Museum examines the evidence uncovered in excavations on the Island revealing how he lived and offering the first opportunity to see the sole possession buried with him. There’ll be artifacts on show that haven’t been displayed before, as well as replicas to show some of them in their original glory.
The exhibition opened at the Manx Museum, Douglas, on Saturday 18th September and runs until May 2011. Admission is free.


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Peel Viking Longboat race Isle of Man, Royal London 360°

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Peel’s Viking longboat races benefit nine charities

Manx Longboat news @ Crafty Cat.im

PRIZEMONEY: Mark Kennett, fifth left, and Merita Taylor, fourth left, of Royal London 360° present cheques to representatives of the winning three teams (men’s, women’s and mixed)

NINE Manx charities and good causes have benefited from the recent Royal London 360°-sponsored Viking Longboat World Championship.

Prizemoney for the teams finishing first, second and third in the men’s, women’s and mixed categories was donated.
First prize teams got £500 – mens: Faragher’s Liftmen, Manx Mencap; women’s: Eastern Young Farmers, Hyperbaric Chamber; mixed: Sheepskull Enduro Riders, Peel Anti Cancer.
Second prize teams got £250 – men’s: Sheepskull Enduro Riders, Joey Dunlop Foundation; womens: Vigueens, Isle of Man Special Care Baby Unit; mixed: Adventurous Experiences, Hospice Isle of Man.
Third prize teams got £150 – men’s: Young Vkings Again, St John’s School special needs unit; women’s: Balallough Babes, Breakthrough Breast Cancer Isle of Man; mixed: Justice for Gingers, Motor Neurone Disease Association.
A record 83 teams entered this year’s Viking Longboat World Championship, which is now in its 47th year.
Committee chairman, Nigel Rawlinson, said: ‘We had a fantastic turnout in Peel for the event and it is good to see so many worthwhile Manx charities benefiting from such a long-standing tradition. I would like to thank our sponsor, Royal London 360°, without whom we would not be able to make this event happen.’

Magnus Barelegs Viking Festival 2010, Viking Festival Ireland, Viking Boatrace IOM

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Viking Boat Race news @ CraftyCat.im

Viking Boat Race news @ CraftyCat.im

Viking Boat Race news @ CraftyCat.im

Later this month a horde of fairly amiable Vikings will be leaving Manx shores and heading to the picturesque banks of Strangford Lough to take part in the seventh annual Viking Boat Race.
This popular event, held within Killyleagh Bay, forms part of the ‘Magnus Barelegs Viking Festival’ and attracts teams from all around the world, but they face stiff competition from the Manx boys who have proved to be consistent winners. Styling themselves as the ‘Young Vikings Again’ it has been suggested that they could be the oldest continuous rowing team in existence, with a combined age of approximately 550 years!
Billed as the greatest Viking Festival in Ireland organisers have also planned a number of School Education Days, and an exciting finale that includes a Viking Living History display, mass invasion and inevitable battle.
Held in the fishing port of Killyleagh and within the grounds of the scenic Delamont Country Park in County Down, the celebrated Viking King Magnus Barelegs is buried just a few miles from the site of the festival.
Killyleagh is also associated with an illustrious Egyptologist, a famous England and Northern Ireland footballer and is the birthplace of the man who introduced drinking chocolate to Europe.
But the twelfth century Killyleagh Castle, which dominates the village with its striking Loire style architecture, may also have an historical connection with the Isle of Man. One of the Manx team, Roy Baker, believes that the eye-catching Killyleagh Castle may have been built as a wedding present for Auffrica, the daughter of Godred the Black, King of Mann and the Isles. The latter day Manx Vikings have become firm friends of the present owners Gawn and Polly Rowan-Hamilton and their family, in a castle which once played an important part in Ulster Scots history and still retains its own fearful dungeon. Reputed to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland and considering its majestic, almost fairy tale like appearance it’s not too bad for a temporary B & B!
Links with the area have also been forged over a pint of Guinness at the ‘Dufferin Arms’ where the landlord has adopted the Manx team and shown extensive generosity. An ideal place to slake their thirst after a hard day’s rowing, this Irish hostelry displays the Manx national flag and has now become their unofficial headquarters, where critical discussions can be overheard about rowing techniques and the standard of the beer.
This is also an important opportunity to attract media attention, with the town of Killyleagh coming alive with visitors as the area rediscovers itself with the lapse of traditional industries. But it’s also a perfect occasion to raise money for a selection of good causes in the area and beyond, with local support a vital component. All money raised by running the event will be put towards the area’s cross community work through the Killyleagh Social Partnership, but each team is invited to raise funds for their chosen charity, or contribute to locally based charities in the town.
Valerie Caine © September 2010 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)
PS Black and white photo is today’s rowers in their youth….!

Postcards Isle of man, Souvenirs Isle of Man

Postcards Isle of Man @ CraftyCat.im

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WISH YOU WERE HERE: Some of the thousands of saucy seaside postcards in the collection at the Manx Museum



SAUCY postcards depicting henpecked husbands, buxom housewives, amorous honeymooners, and big bottomed mothers-in-law – and captions laden with double entendres.

They were once as much a part of the great British seaside holiday as sandcastles and candyfloss.
But for more than 50 years here in the Isle of Man every card was scrutinised by cautious official censors who ruled whether they were fit for sale or should be banned.
Killjoys they may have been, perhaps, and looking at the cards now you are struck at just how innocent they seem with their Carry On humour that would have appeared antiquated even when they were on sale.
But it’s a good thing that the censors met for so long – as all the cards that went before them are now held in the Manx National Heritage library at the Manx Museum. The archive of more than 45,000 postcards provides a fascinating record of changing public mores.
Contained in some 76 boxes are both cards that were approved by the censors and those that were rejected.
While appearing old fashioned in their saucy humour, the postcards pick up on contemporary issues.
In the 1930s wireless was new enough for comments to be made about these ‘new-fangled gadgets’. Wartime saw Hitler become the butt of jokes. From the 30s into the 50s, fat ladies were the most frequent source of gags but by the 60s references to sex, usually unmarried and illicit, had taken over.
In the 70s the cards had become much more explicit in both the censored cards and those passed for sale.
At at exhibition in 1983 marking the 50th anniversary of the Island’s postcard censoring committee, chairman Orry Teare told visitors: ‘You may wonder why have a censoring committee or even gain the impression that inhabitants of this Isle are distinctly prudish. I can assure you that the Manx can enjoy a touch of saucy comedy as much as anyone.
‘Examples of comic postcards continue to be submitted where humour is associated with, diminished or replaced by rudeness, vulgarity or obscenity. While some may tolerate or enjoy such standards, so others are entitled to insist that public decorum is maintained.’
They’re the same sentiments that were expressed back in 1933 when the committee was first set up by Act of Tynwald which the then Attorney General said would save the Isle of Man from ‘the display of vulgar and suggestive postcards which are to be seen in so many places, particularly on the Continent.’
In fact, pressure for change had come some 20 years earlier when in 1912 Bishop Denton Thompson called on traders to agree to self-regulation.
The Postcard Censorship Act 1933 ordered that no picture postcard be sold or kept or exhibited for sale until it had first been submitted to and approved by the committee.
In the first 50 years of its life, the committee considered no fewer than 32,316 postcards, of which 23,481 were approved and 8,835 rejected. It was not disbanded until June 1989.
By that time its workload had dropped dramatically as the popularity of the bawdy cards diminished. In the year ending July 1984, it considered just 30 cards of which 24 were approved and six rejected.
Manx National Heritage archivist Wendy Thirkettle said: ‘These postcards and the work of the censoring committee form a very interesting social record, now available for research. From today’s standpoint, the cards have a sheen of nostalgia for many.
‘Other seaside resorts were scrutinising these saucy cartoon cards – the Isle of Man was not alone in this. The cards ceased to be so popular and the work of the committee declined over the years.
‘By the 1980s the cards coming before them were in the tens rather than the hundreds.’

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Life & Times of the Laxey Woollen Mill Industry Review Isle of Man

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I originally covered this book here. But as so many more people will now have seen it thanks to the Mostly Manx appearance at the NAMA Convention I thought Valerie’s review today would be appropriate. It’s fantastic by the way!

With the recent publication of ‘A Weaver’s Tale’ by Manx author Sue King readers will be given a new insight into the little known story of ‘St. George’s Woollen Mill’, and its prominence within the lives of the people of Laxey. But the book also provides an absorbing historical account of the village itself, as it adjusts over time to change and regeneration.
The book is enhanced by a large selection of evocative photographs showing both the growth of ‘St. George’s Woollen Mill’ and the changing landscape of the surrounding area.
‘A Weaver’s Tale’ becomes a fascinating journey into the rarely told tale of wool, chronicling its impact on the local population in both work and their dressing habits. Charting its rise from home weaving to industrial mechanisation, the book challenges our perception of the term cottage industry.
In this book you can read more about the mill’s first owner, the gloriously named Egbert Rydings (who married into a Manx family), and the influence of the philanthropist John Ruskin. But it’s also a moving tribute to the local people employed at the mill.
Packed with an intriguing index of wool related facts and folklore, the reader can also follow the history of a number of Manx tartans produced at ‘St. George’s Mill’ from the 1960s, which found renewed success with the much celebrated tartan revival in the 1980s.
Now in the safe hands of a second generation of the Wood family ‘St. George’s Woollen Mill’ has entered a new era with the opening of the ‘Hodgson Loom Gallery’, and the prospect of a new catering facility in the near future.
Priced at £14.99 ‘A Weaver’s Tale’ is available from the shop at ‘St. George’s Woollen Mill, Glen Road, Laxey, ‘Mostly Manx’, Nelson Street, Douglas, or from bookshops throughout the Island.
Valerie Caine © September 2010 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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North American Manx Association

Our Kits advertised with the North American Manx Association Blog

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Like Cross-stitch?

Please find this email as an introduction to Crafty Cat, an Isle of Man company specialising in the design and manufacturing of Cross-stitch kits.
We wondered if you would be interested in letting your members know about our Manx kits?
Most of the subjects for the kits are based on Manx themes, in a series titled:
“Around the Island in Cross-stitch”,
The Isle of Man is well-known for its beautiful and varied scenery, and its 1000 years and more of Tynwald, the oldest continuous parliament in the world, but is most famous for those iconic symbols of the Isle of Man, the “Three Legs” Coat of Arms, the tail-less Manx Cat, and for being the home for over 100 years of the TT motorcycle races.
The original cross-stitch series consisted of around fifty titles, and as some of these date back twenty years, they are now being redesigned, and will be included in the up-to-date series as soon as possible. Our website is http://www.craftycat.im
We would be glad to supply you with further information or images and if you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Gura mie ayd

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Laxey Wheel Isle of Man cross-stitch kit Crafts IOM

Laxey Wheel Isle of Man. The new Laxey Wheel IOM cross stitch kit is now available in our stockists  (craft section) in the Isle of Man.


The kit is worked on 14-count BLUE Aida.

Please contact us for further details.