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GALOSHANS noun

During the course of revising the Concise Scots Dictionary the editors discovered many terms thought to be obsolete during the editing of the first edition to be, in fact, current in the twenty-first century. 

While during the course of last week children and young people in in most areas of Scotland were guising, or to use the American import, ‘trick or treating’, children in the Inverclyde area use the term Galoshans for the same activity.

In Inverclyde there is the Galoshans Festival which this year ran from 24-31st October.

In the Dictionary of the Scots Language www.dsl.ac.uk Galoshans is defined under its original name of Galatian and takes the name from the ancient province of Galatia in modern-day Turkey. This was originally a mummers play performed by boys at Halloween and or Hogmanay and is first recorded in the DSL in the following from Jamieson’s 1825 edition of his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: “Galatians. . . Boys . . . go about in the evenings, at the end of the year, dressed in paper caps, and sashes, with wooden swords, singing and reciting at the doors of houses.” This sound pretty much like modern-day guising to me.

In the following example from the Greenock Telegraph of 30th October 2013, teacher Isabel Lind, an advocate the Scots Language, encouraged her pupils in the use of ‘galoshans’ instead of the term ‘guisers’ and the writer notes that perhaps Greenock is the last place where galoshans is used: “…Isabel's heart is still firmly in Inverclyde, not least, perhaps, because it appears to be the only place where guisers are referred to as galoshans.”

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries 9 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 7AL (0131) 220 1294,   www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk  mail@scotsdictionaries.org.uk