Listen to the latest bonus episode of our expat podcast as we make our yearly attempt to explain Halloween and Day of the Dead to the country of Sweden.
Available wherever you get your podcast by typing in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow” or at any of the links below:
My son’s friend went trick-or-treating with his sister last weekend (because in Sweden, Halloween is 2 weeks for some reason).
The Swedes are still learning how Halloween works, which leads to some strange things ending up in the treat bag. On this occasion, the boy and his sister knocked on a door belonging to an old woman. She dug in her purse and dropped an old piece of money that is no longer valid and an aspirin.
Maybe the aspirin came in handy later for the parent who had to deal with sugar-hyped kids.
Every time I read a job ad that includes any mention of “stakeholders,” I just think of an angry mob chasing Dracula and then I forget what the job was about.
… but my son just told me this weekend about what happened when he went trick-or-treating this year in Stockholm for Halloween. I guess he forgot to mention it before.
I’m often going on and on about Swedes just not understanding the holiday. They’ve given my kids money, old candy dug out of their pockets, an orange and loose potato chips in previous years, but we have a new winner this year:
My son told me that when he and his friend were trick-or-treating this year, one couple opened the door, apologized for not having candy and offered the boys an uncooked lasange plate each.
I guess we can start cutting down on sugar around here now if I can replace the kids’ candy with lasagne plates. Not a bad idea.
Sometimes I think it must have been terrifying to live in Victorian times just based on their holiday cards.
It’s Halloween time again. I found these great costumes from the 70s for our kids to wear. Apparently, they are refusing on the grounds of:
- “We have no idea who Mr. Kotter or Donnie & Marie are.”
- Those are the saddest, lamest costumes ever.
Happy Halloween all! We had a Halloween dinner last night at a friends’ house and the kids got to go trick-or-treating. That’s right – LAST NIGHT, October 30. But this is Sweden where no one is quite sure if Halloween is only one day or which one it is, so they tend to celebrate for a week or two.
Now what made our Halloween last night so extremely Swedish (besides some people being confused and giving the kids money – better than last year when they got loose potato chips), was the first house we went to. There was a 3 year old boy jumping up and down on a bed in the window. Oh yeah, and he was completely naked. The boys had already rung the doorbell and we thought perhaps the parents would be embarassed, but wait… this is Sweden and you’re always going to run into nudity somewhere. The parents and kid came to the door to hand out candy and the kid stayed completely naked just dropping the candy into our kids bags. Our kids were in hysterics. I’ll give that kid best costume of the night – it was shocking for sure. 🙂
(Don’t worry, kid not shown in this picture.)
We actually got invited to another Swedish/American couple’s house yesterday for a Halloween dinner plus trick or treating with their kids. It was wonderful! Finally my kids got a fun and real Halloween over here! The family lives in a large area of attached townhouses which are very family-friendly with no streets – the perfect place for trick or treating. I should also say that there were many wonderful people with jack-o-lanterns. Many would answer the door in costume – it was great.
That being said, let me give you the highlights of the Swedes who did not understand trick or treating last night.
1. When our group of kids (6 – 7 years old) came to one lady’s door, she argued with them and told them it was the wrong night and they should come back tomorrow. Then she closed the door. I wonder what she said to the other 20 groups of kids I saw running around and if she ever stopped to think she MIGHT be wrong.
2. One irritated man said, “Guess what kids? Fruit is the new candy!” and gave them all oranges.
3. Some guy gave all the kids potato chips because he didn’t have candy. Just dumped clumps of chips in the bag. Now the candy is all greasy and I have to wash the bag from all the crushed chips.
4. One couple got interupted from a romantic dinner (Swedes don’t often have curtains and we could see the couple having a candlelit dinner with wine – they picked the wrong night). The woman went back in, rummaged through the cabinets until she found a huge bag of nuts. She looked at the man. They both shrugged and then she came to the door and just handed the kids the giant bag of nuts.
5. One lady apologized to the kids saying they had just come back from vacation in America and all they had was dollars. The other American guy and I hollered, “That works for us!” and this sweet, polite lady said, “oh, should I go get them?” We had to say, “um. No. We were just kidding.”
Out of the maybe 50 houses we visited, about half had candy (I was so surprised!), 20 percent gave the kids weird things from their cabinet because they weren’t prepared, 10 percent answered the door and told the kids they had nothing and the rest just shut off the porch light as soon as the kids approached the door (also funny because again, there are no curtains and we can see straight into the houses that the people are ignoring us.)
But the kids were thrilled and they are still talking about it today. Their bags were full, they had a super time and there were a lot of really cool people who made it fun for them while answering doors. There is hope for a real Halloween in Sweden after all!
(But I’ll still hold on to my bag of candy for the next 2 days because they honestly just can’t get the day right).
As usual, I like to complain each year about Sweden not understanding that Halloween is one day, not a week or 2 weeks. It also never falls in November.
Most Swedes just find the closest weekend to celebrate which normally ends up being in November. This just doesn’t work for we Americans. Halloween is ONE DAY. Once it turns November, we are magically not in a Halloween mood anymore. Novemeber has nothing to do with Halloween.
Of course we are invited to a Halloween party on November 1 this year. It’s nice to actually get to go to a party and I’m sure it will be fun. My plan is to set the clock so that October 31 runs 48 hours and I can enjoy the party without wondering why I’m dressed as a zombie in November.
There are a few things for an American in Sweden that equal gold. This would be Velveeta cheese and candy corn. (Not together, but hmm… I wonder….)
I just got a bag of candy corn delivered from the states this week for Halloween. I had to put it on the highest shelf in the house. It doesn’t stop the thoughts though. It’s a whole bag. It calls to me all day long. No one else in the house really likes it but me. No one would even know if I took just 3 or 4 tiny candy kernels.
Candy corn – devil’s food – you torture me!
This is a message for the Swedes – HALLOWEEN IS OCTOBER 31 ! IT IS ONLY ONE DAY AND IT IS ALWAYS OCTOBER 31.
When I first moved here twelve years ago, Halloween was barely celebrated at all. Over the years things have gotten better. It is easier to find pumpkins for sale and some businesses actually put up decorations. I feel that the Swedes want to celebrate this holiday but are a bit confused by the proper way to do it.
It seems that it is often confused here for the weekend that is closest to All Saints Day, or the weekend before. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate Halloween over a 2 weekend period here.
We don’t get many trick or treaters because children trick or treat on Easter instead (more on that in April). Last year we had two trick or treaters come to the door on October 31 and I congratulated them with extra candy just for getting the right day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that they celebrate it more here, but once November starts I am completely out of Halloween mode and have eaten all the candy. So get it right – OCTOBER 31. I expect to see everyone in costume, jack-o-lanterns and kids at my door. I will be waiting with a big bag of Twix, which is a candy I like, so I can eat it all when no one shows up.
I found myself embellishing my cell phone conversation yesterday for the entertainment of my fellow subway passengers. My husband and I had a discussion about Halloween and my frustration with the Swedes not understanding that it is only one specific day and ONLY in October. (More on this tomorrow.) At some point, I realized the informative potential so I started making myself a bit louder and unconsciously with an increasing southern accent. I think my brain decided that would get more attention. I started saying things like, “You need to listen to me. No Halloween parties are allowed in November!”
(Husband says, “But that’s how Swedes celebrate their holidays.”)
“No, this holiday doesn’t belong to you and if you want to get it right, you need to listen to an American! We tell you how to celebrate and it’s October 31! Don’t come to my door unless its October 31! November trick or treaters and people in costume will not be tolerated! “
I’m hoping my message got through to my fellow passengers who were smiling a bit. It’s an important issue and they need to know the facts!
Next week is fall break here in Stockholm – much like spring break, but in the fall…. yeah, you get it. Anyway, because so many kids are going to be out of school next week, most kids get to wear their costumes to school today (Friday).
I have tried to convince my children to dress up as insurance salesmen, but they aren’t going for it. I really thought it would be simple and we have a lot of ties. I do have to praise my youngest who offered to be Bruce Wayne instead of Batman. Good boy.
As for myself, I’m going as a vampire or zombie – depends on how the makeup turns out. The rest of the building will believe I am a typical Halloween monster, but I know the truth. My outift symbolizes the blood drained from my system in a soul-crushing workplace where we all must follow orders like mindless zombies. But when my boss asks, I’m Dracula.