(no special Spark insight here...just talkin' about Halloween in Norway...)
The history of Halloween in Norway can be traced all the way back to the mid 1990's. Back then they just picked a weekend day closest to Halloween and hoped for the best! The very sensible Norwegians still debate each year when the children should be celebrating Halloween but this year they did seem to actually only come around on October 31st! When they first started doing it people were often times surprised by the trick or treaters and did not expect them and scrounged through the cabinets handing out what ever would pass for a treat. A young friend of mine in his early twenties tells about how lousy the hand fulls of loose potato chips were to get in your bag...or the chocolate covered coffee beans. (kids really don't like those) We even caught one older man off guard this year...he disappeared into his kitchen and came back with two Easter eggs. Our group was seven kids...two kids got lucky. Going trick or treating is really hit or miss. I remember the year we lived up in Tromsø we were so excited to come upon a house fully decorated with carved pumpkins outside and they even had scary music on the front porch. They had clearly gone to a lot of effort and were in the spirit of things. Once we got to the from door we realized that no one was home. As we headed back down the driveway the woman who lived there came rushing up to us...she had forgotten you needed candy and had to run to the store! This year we live in a more Halloween savvy neighborhood than in previous years so there were more houses to go to but sadly no one gave out cupcakes or waffles like last year.
The Norwegians are not exactly sure what they think about Halloween. It is not very Norwegian and they will tell you "we have no tradition around it". It is true. They don't. It came from Celts I believe...although the Norsk blame it on the Americans! I hate that. Everyone is always blaming everything on the Americans! I was even armed with a small history of Halloween to tell people this year explaining how it was all traced back to the UK and we should really be blaming them :-D ...but it all came back to the commercialism of America somehow in my conversations and I was always left saying..."yea, well, it is really fun and you get to dress up and the kids are so cute..."and then I trail off...they don't really want to hear me. One woman said "Oh well...I guess it is here to stay." (with a sigh) So you can see...some don't really like Halloween. They even kind of blame it for taking away something called "julebok" (which I am misspelling) this is kind of like Christmas caroling but more like visiting your neighbors in an organized way...kind of. ;-) Anyway, they don't do it anymore and some say that Halloween replaced it...because when you go "jule-whatever" you are given treats by those whom you visit. But a very straight forward friend of mine said that it simply isn't true. The "jule-whatever" tradition died out long ago and people are just resisting Halloween.
I am not really sure why. In many ways it is very Norwegian to pick up random child oriented holidays that are not their own and adopt them. They celebrate Carnival, St. Lucia Day and even sometimes St. Nicholas Day. ...none of these are Norwegian. Maybe those holidays had to go through a phase where people were suspicious of them too I don't know but I do think Halloween is here to stay partly because it really does fit into the highly child oriented culture.
You should hear the cooing and sweet talk that children hear from the grown ups who open the door! The children yell "knask eller knep!" and the people take so much time with the children often kneeling down with several buckets of often unwrapped candies for the children to choose from. They talk so sweetly in the sing songy way that Norwegians always talk to children and ask them all kinds of questions. Sometimes they have the children sing for the candy! It is very different from the fairly quick greeting at the door in America. Going around the block once on Halloween takes forever in Norway! (If you can find a block to go around..up in the Arctic we walked many many blocks to find a neighbor hood that was celebrating!)
Hardly anyone carves pumpkins but they did sell them in the stores on the Friday before Halloween and they quickly sold out. Some people asked us what you can do with all of the stuff inside the pumpkin...like if you can eat it...and how to roast the seeds. They don't eat winter squash here really. Our neighbors all said that ours was the best pumpkins on the block...there were only like four other pumpkins on the block and one was ceramic! You will see a picture of ours...pretty basic! lol!
One other thing. The Norwegian kids really will trick you. Of course, there are the stories of the mean tricks but sometimes they are clever. As we were getting ready to head out we had knocking at our door several times and when we opened the door no one was there. Hmmm. Weird. Then later that night after our trick or treat outing we had knocking at our door again and no one was there. Quintessa said "I wonder what is going on." and after closing the door, opened it again quickly to inspect as to why no one was there but she was tricked as they jumped out of the bushes by the door where they were hiding and scared her! Fortunately, she is old enough to find it funny but Liam who was inside with us and witnessed the whole thing was not one bit impressed!
Anyway, we had fun and found that we were the local "experts" of course. A few kids even congregated at our house who had never trick or treated before so they could see what it is all about. One parent too! The kids looked so cute and had so much fun. Halloween is a great thing and I can see that the people who as children started it here, are now growing up having their own kids, Norway will have another tradition before anyone knows it!
Liam wore his pumpkin costume to the dinner table tonight. He loves that thing!