Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween - That Tacky American Export

OK, so here it is, Halloween again. And, well, all of our trick-or-treaters came last night. And I gave them a ton of candy.

I LOVE Halloween. What can I say? And thankfully my Swedish family threw what has to be the best Halloween party I have ever been to, so who am I to complain?

Ahhh, but complain I will, so here are a few things I would like to say to the Swedish people about Halloween.

1) The date is October 31st. Always. Seriously, it is a celebration of All Hallows Eve, which is the night before All Saints Day. As a country who celebrates more Eves than I ever knew existed, you should be able to get this Eve business. This creates a bit of confusion in Sweden since the government moved All Saints Day to a random Sunday each month (this is the part I would object to if I were religious, but I'm not, so who cares). The question arises – do I celebrate on American Eve or Swedish Eve? I say go American, lets just stick with the 31st. That way I don't get Trick-or-treaters every night for a week.
2) This is not time to start to get all health conscious. Seriously, Halloween is about candy. If you don't have any, say 'Sorry' and close the door. If I want an apple I would go to the store, not trick or treating. See, I would argue that most of us Americans know that unhealthy food makes us fat. Most people do not 'supersize' their McDonald's meal because they think it will give them 'supersize vitamins.' Let us have one day when we can enjoy candy guilt free. And then let us spend the rest of the year eating just as poorly and feeling guilty about it. (This isn't me, I eat quite well, but you get the point.)

3) Previously I wrote about Swedes seem to LOVE mischievous kids (like the Max books). This apparently applies on all other nights but Halloween. On Halloween, that trickery is terrible terrible nonsense performed when kids don't get any candy. For the life of me I cannot remember a single trick I pulled on anyone. We sprayed some doorbells with shaving cream to warn other trick-or-treaters that there was no candy to be had, but that is about it.

4) Swedes get a free pass for unwrapped goods. Americans, we get a little hyper about the unwrapped Halloween candy, but seriously, I think the kids here are just happy for any little bit they get. No pillow cases half full with Snickers and Cracker Jacks in Sweden. If you forced people to give wrapped candy, these kids would have nothing.
5) RELAX – it is a holiday! HAVE FUN. 

6) Ignore all of the above? – Halloween was cancelled in my home town this year – why? The snowstorm downed too many power lines and so everyone is supposed to stay indoors. And thanks to crazy Stranger Danger fears – in many places they are now doing trunk-or-treat, so kids just go from car to car in a parking lot, rather then actually going to visit their neighbors. Meh.


  1. 1) The date is when people want to celebrate it. And it's not going to be on a weekday, ever.

    2) Swedes eat more candy a person and year than any other nationality in the world (17 kilo), so don't worry.

    3) Most kids don't trick or treat at all, so why should you expect a lot of tricks? Since hardly anyone does it, that mean most people aren't prepared for it and would only get angry and not see any fun in it anyway.

    4) Why are Americans so afraid? Wrapped candy? Haven't you seen lösgidis in the store? It's not wrapped.

    5) So? Who's not having fun? Who needs to realx here..?

    6) Again - what's the deal with this living in fear that seem so popular among Americans?

    I think it's a fun thing, but I don't really count it as an actual holiday (here, obviously it is in the US). Just a reason to have a costume party, which is always nice. I dont expect or want kids to knock on my door asking for candy, that is for Easter!

  2. Yes I totally agree with you. If Swedes should celebrate Halloween it is the 31 and not something else. Yes Halloween is about candy. I had a nice Halloween yesterday. We had a bunch of kids that came on the right night and we had made sure we had plenty of candy for them. They knew how to do it but their parents are American and English so there was no confusion.
    I am sorry to hear that Halloween was cancelled in your home town. I just hope all those who are suffering from the snow and the power being out soon get their power back.

  3. What IS the deal with celebrating a holiday on the wrong day. It's like Lucia with all the scand. heritage organizations in Seattle, some random Saturday in December. Jeez. If they can't be bothered to have it on actual Lucia, I am not going to go.

  4. And, I am with you as well.
    I DO NOT understand that it is so HARD to understand that Halloween always takes place on Oct, 31.
    A Swedish friend of mine moved back to Sweden from Northern VA last year (after ten years in the US). She said to me that she had kids ringing on her doorbell at ALL times, and it started on FRIDAY! She thinks she will get kids ringing her doorbell until Saturday. SICK. I don't understand that it is so complicated to understand this.

    Yes, it is all about the candy! So what if the kids have a sugar high! Halloween happens once a year.

    I have learned to love Halloween. Here in the states it is one of the best days of the year.
    Love it all.

    And, another holiday that I love a lot is Thanksgiving!

    I miss Lucia most from Sweden. I miss it so much!
    But, I do not want to celebrate it on the wrong day either.

    Yes, I've heard about Halloween being canceled in many places north of NYC. SO strange with all the snow that fell over the weekend.

    Take care,
    Annika in DC

  5. We celebrate christmas on the 24th, americans on the 25th. It's just different.

  6. Yep I am with you. I have no idea why there is a confusion on when to celebrate.. odd! In England it's definitely become more and more popular every year to celebrate and this year we went trick or treating with the kids for the first time. They (and we!) loved it!!

    In Bristol there is an unwritten law that you only knock on doors where there is a pumpkin outside (or in a window) to 'signal' that they are happy for trick or treaters to visit. Quite a good rule I think as then you only have to take part if you want to.

  7. I have to admit when I wrote this I didn't think it would be a controversial statement. Even I get annoyed with having trick or treaters come every night for the course of a week. Sure, you celebrate Christmas on different days, but they are both related to Christmas, and in the US we acknowledge that we celebrate Christmas Day, and here you celebrate on the Eve. It is still the same holiday.

    But yes, I stand by what I said, if you want to steal an American tradition, you should go trickortreating on the day. Have your party whenever!

    @anon - if I knew the deal about Americans living in fear, I might be quite wealthy. My personal theory is that it has a lot to do with the idea of being in 'control' and that if you just do A B and C everything will be alright. And if you don't, that is when the bad things happen. I personally think this is a lot of nonsense, but you can't tell people how to live.

    @t-anna - really? Lucia on another day? Meh... That said, Lucia is a nice band-aid for my Halloween homesickness. It is a beautiful and fun tradition.

  8. Well, if I were a kid I wouldn't mind having free candy every day of the week ;-)

    I bought 1.5 kg of candy for the halloween kids. Nobody turned up and knocked on our door. My family had all the candy for themselves and when all candy were eaten (two days later or so) suddenly there is a knock on the door *sigh*

  9. Surviving Sweden: I wasn't being too seriuos, but it does annoy me when people are overprotective, I think it usually leads to the opposite: children don't learn how to deal with stuff. And germs aren't so bad (unless it's the wrong ones of course, but I mean sort of every day germs)! Like what you write in your other post, about apple peels. I have never seen or heard about anyone peeling apples for their children, not even for small ones. Still, sedish children don't choke on apple peels - we don't peel them because it's not a problem. If children tended to choke on them we wuld peel them too!