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:
In Sweden, every day has a name attached to it. Why is this? I really don’t have time to Google it, I gotta pick up my kids in 20 minutes.
Anyway, when the day with your name comes up on the calendar, people here congratulate you on your namesday and you might get a little cake or treat.
When I first found out about this, I was in at the word “cake.” Then to my disappointment, I remembered that “Heather” was not a Swedish name and there was no Heather Day in the calendar.
I did the only thing I could do – I picked another female “H” name to celebrate. (Not an easy task.) And that name is….. “Hedvig!”
So every October 15, please refer to me as Hedvig. I’m not missing out on my cake.
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!
One of the best things about Sweden is all the pastry-themed holidays. Today is Cinnamon bun day! When I asked why we have a cinnamon bun day, I was told – so they can sell more cinnamon buns. Brilliant! That’s all the reason I need.
We also have Luciadagen, with saffron buns (this lasts through Christmas).
Semlor… ahhhhh….. the Mardi Gras pastry. It’s meant to be eaten at Mardi Gras, but has now been pushed up to every Tuesday starting in January through Mardi Gras. Works for me. I don’t know what’s in it, except that it’s goodness and a king died by eating 16 of them. What a great death!
Waffle day is March 25. I am told this is a mis-translation of Var fru dagen (Our lady’s day) and that over the years it turned into the similar sounded Vafflordagen (waffle day). Whether this story is true or not, it’s a good excuse to eat waffles.
So don’t forget your cinnamon bun today! Remember, if it’s a holiday, it’s good for you!