Halloween is definitely one of the most popular holidays with Odin and Adelheyd. I mean, how can it not be at the top of every kid’s list – you get to dress up in a cool costume and run around the neighborhood getting candy. Kind of a dream come true for my 4 and 6 year old. We have a little Halloween gathering at our house in Montana every year with a group of friends and we did not want to let this year go by without continuing that tradition…even in a country where they have not yet embraced Halloween to its fullest.
There have been Halloween decorations in the grocery stores and costumes for kids in the toy stores since the beginning of October. Of course the best selection of Halloween gear is at our very own local Toys R Us…yes amazingly there is a Toys R Us in this Arctic Town. We don’t even have one in Montana, yet there is one in Tromsø at 69 degrees North. So, we at very least knew that the Norwegians here were aware of the existence of Halloween. But how was it celebrated here? We asked around and the most common answer was the Halloween was pretty new here, only acknowledged in the stores and by the people in the past 5 years. Most Norwegians have learned about Halloween just as they learn about a lot of American culture…from the movies. Some of the older generation (sorry mom and dad but that means 50+ in this context:) really DO NOT like Halloween. They are against it for several reasons (1) It is an American and NOT a Norwegian holiday (2) kids don’t need all that candy – this one is strange because there is a lot of candy in Norway (3) it disgraces All Saints Day – also strange because this is not a particularly religious country.
Regardless of this small percentage of the population who do not want to adopt Halloween into the Norwegian culture…it is coming here. We hosted a Halloween party at our house and invited some friends. Tim and Elin helped us decorate and prepare for the evening complete with games for the kids including pin the nose on the witch and feeling bowls of yucky body parts (cold pasta, peeled grapes, and a real animal liver from the farm Elin works at – gross!). We listened to the Monster Mash, Ghostbusters Theme Song and all the great Halloween tunes. When it came time to hit the pavement, the Norwegian parents present were more than happy to stay at the house drinking coffee while the American adults (Tim, Joel, myself and our friend Jill) took all the kids out trick or treating. Pretty funny that none of the Norwegian adults wanted to watch their kids knock on random doors asking for candy. Hmmmm…..
The Norwegians definitely do not know the cardinal rule of Halloween night – turn off your porch light if you are not prepared to give candy! Tim decided he may write a little Halloween etiquette article for the local paper next year:) Despite the dark and icy evening, we made it to about 10 houses. Joel’s statistics as reported at the end of the evening were as follows:
Unscientific survey of houses in our neighborhood: 3 out of 4 Norwegians do not like kids knocking on their doors and asking for candy. The others give out bulk candy wrapped in aluminium foil – mostly candy covered licorice).
Other stats for the evening: 100% of kids will fall when walking on steep roads covered in black ice in the rain, 20% of kids will fall every 100 m or so.
Regardless of the minimal success trick-or-treating, the kids had a blast. I think they each came home with 3 or 4 pieces of candy and one Aluminum foil wrap filled with black licorice. My favorite house of the evening was the woman who asked the kids to sing a song in exchange for a piece of candy. She asked in Norwegian and Adelheyd (who does speak and understand Norwegian) looked at her and said – Jeg snake ikke Norsk (I don’t speak Norwegian). The woman laughed and gave them candy anyway.
So we made it home with a meager stash of candy in comparison to past Halloweens in the States, but the kids were quite excited! I read an NPR article the next day that kids who get only one piece of candy are happier than those who get a ton. We all proved that true this Halloween. Minimal candy but a lot of super happy kids. I have to admit that it was pretty fun watching this group of Norwegian kids go trick-or-treating for the first time!