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I had an unexpected phone call at work this morning from a radio personality that had gotten my name from one of our neighbors who works for a broadcasting company in Malmö. The man who called me works for Sverige's Radio and had been told that I was a "Halloween expert". Haa! I guess being an American in Sweden qualifies me as a Halloween expert, if anyone is! He asked me several questions about Halloween: when it was, what you were supposed to do, did you have to dress up, what were the rules for trick-or-treating, etc. I answered him as best I could, and then he asked if he could call back and officially record the same basic conversation as an interview which would be played on the radio tomorrow morning. Uh...I stammered, "in Swedish?!" ...But yes, of course, he said, and then tried to make me less nervous by confirming that he had understood everything I said, as our whole conversation had taken place in Swedish.

Since I was at work, I told him to please wait and call me at home later, which he did. When he called, I went into the bedroom and shut the door, since the kids were home, and gave him the basic information about Halloween that he seemed to think it was important for Swedes to know:

When was it? October 31st. ONLY. I told him that you could have Halloween parties all month long, and decorate as far in advance as you wanted to but that Halloween itself is only October 31st and that is the only day you are supposed to allow trick-or-treating. (I prudently DIDN'T mention the fact that I have been forced to compromise my own principles and break all the laws of Halloween regulations myself this year: we're not going to be home on Halloween, and since we're the ones who organize the trick-or-treating in our Swedish neighborhood, my daughter was determined that we would have to have it Friday evening instead. *sigh*).

I told him that you didn't have to only dress up as scary things like witches and vampires, even though those sorts of spooks and monsters are what is typically associated with Halloween and scary themes apply to all the trappings. BUT dress up is completely up to you; you can be whatever you want, there are no limits, except what your imagination sets.

He asked about pumpkins and I explained what you do with them, though we didn't go into great detail. I told him what the "trick" part of trick-or-treating could be if kids are answered so when they knock on a door, begging for candy: sing a little song, recite a little rhyme, do a somersault, stand on their heads. He asked about egging and the kind of awful pranks that can happen, at least in the States and I tried to explain that those were not really acceptable behavior, especially for kids and that it wasn't in the real "spirit" of Halloween to behave so.

What were the alternatives one could offer if there was no candy in the house when kids came knocking on Halloween? he asked. I told him today's children probably wouldn't be so thrilled to be offered fruit as a substitute, but that perhaps a coin or a cookie would be acceptable. I said most people have SOME candy on hand, and at least in the States, most people keep some handy, if they plan to open the door at all.

I miss Halloween in the States. I miss hayrides and corn mazes and the general feeling of mischief and fun that is everywhere in the air. I miss seeing all the costumes and opening the door to the kids with their pumpkin bags and expectant faces. We have decorated our foyer and entrance with cobwebs and pumpkins and glow-in-the-dark ghosts, and there are 42 houses in the neighborhood, most of whom have kids the ages of my children or under, so our trick-or-treating here is always a success and several of the parents have thanked us for organizing it.

Because Sweden doesn't have a trick-or-treating tradition, we organize it slightly differently here. It's not just a free-for-all through the entire village. We print up and send out letters of explanation at least a week in advance, warning people and saying that if they want to participate, they can put the enclosed pumpkin cut-out on their door or mailbox and then the kids will know it is okay to knock on their door. The kids are told not to knock on the doors of houses that don't have one of our pumpkin papers on it. All the kids gather at our house and then are allowed to roam through our neighborhood ONLY. It's a contained area and everyone knows one another, and several parents walk around the streets with the children. It only lasts about an hour or so, and the kids always come back happy and excited, just like they ought to, when it's Halloween.

Anyway, the interview couldn't have lasted more than 5-10 minutes and my Swedish was probably worse than usual, due to my nervousness. My kids, who had their ears pressed up against the door when I opened it after I hung up, told me that I had said liksom way too much, which means I was basically peppering my responses with "like" the whole time, like a stereotypical Valley Girl. Oh well.

The interview is supposed to air tomorrow morning on P4 around 6-6:15 a.m., WAY too early for me to be up listening for it, but it will also be posted on their website by 9 a.m. for anyone interested!
mood: excited
music: Vienna Teng—Homecoming (Walter's Song)


Your Halloween tradition sounds awesome!!
At least I'll be going to a Halloween party this year, here in Sweden, but I'm sure gonna miss going to a haunted house, and giving out candy...

I totally forgot to mention haunted houses! I'm glad you're going to a Halloween Party. I think they're so much fun! I love seeing how creative people can get :) Hope you have more than the obligatory witches and Scream masks!

Congrats! I definitely would not have been up to doing something like that in Swedish. If I'm not up at 6am, I'll look for it on the website later. How fun!

Even I wasn't up to listening at 6 a.m.! :D

Sounds very interesting! I like your answers. Swedes need to be educated about this. I'll never forget all the identical witches and Scream masks running around there.

A new tradition I've noticed here is that a lot of people hand out toys or playdough now. On the candy aisles there are now bags if mini-playdough packs and bags of junky toys that can be handed out instead. Last year I gave out the playdough.

I think that's a really good idea, on the one hand: better for the kids than candy. Is it a lot more expensive??

Wish they had Playdough here, like that!

From Megsie

It sounds like you are bringing Halloween to Sweden single-handedly...and doing an awesome job of it. Congratulations on being a famous Halloween Expert, to add to your usual famous blogger status :) What a fun thing for you and your kids!

Re: From Megsie

Ha! I don't know about "single-handedly"...I have lots of American friends in Sweden who are doing the same things in their neighborhoods, so it's a slow invasion :) But it IS a lot of fun!

Your Swedish is great, with a slight accent of skånska which is obvious as you have lived there for all those years. Rather charming actually! :)

Funny that everyone hears my Swedish as skånska! I can't hear it myself :)

Do you say trick or treat in English or Swedish?

I said it in both, at different points in the interview. It's "bus eller godis" in Swedish (pronounced boos)

No, I meant what do kids say when they go trick or treating?

I don't think I was clear: "bus eller godis" is both what they say when they do it, and what it's called :)


Halloween expert!!!!! Wow my seester on the radio! Wow!!I guess you didn't talk about the origins either? Very proud of you. Now you just have to take a vacation and come here next year to do it right Before Martin is another year older.:)


He actually didn't ask about origins or I would have made a point of mentioning that Halloween actually orginated in EUROPE. Most Europeans think it's an American holiday, but we just made it BETTER :)

Wow, I know a Halloween expert! *heehee*
Go Liz!

Snort! Go on, ask me anything! (I know a lot about Thanksgiving, too, surprisingly...haaa)

well done!

so... what would i get from YOU if i chose "bus"? :)

what do you THINK you'd get? *giggles*

I thought you did a good job! Like Carrie's neighborhood, we do get more people handing out other stuff besides candy. One house usually does little packs of Halloween themed crayons or black and orange stretchy rubber bracelets, another handed out ketchup packets as the dad of the house was standing there dressed as a giant ketchup bottle, though they did have something else as a backup - I forget what - it wasn't candy. My sister gave out toothbrushes one year.

When I was a kid, Mischief Night, that being October 30th, was the night for egging, toilet-papering, shaving-creaming, soaping, etc. This was absolutely NOT condoned by any adult but IF it took place, it was always on the 30th, never the 31st. The 31st was strict trick-or-treating only. Now I don't see much mischief, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

I like those ideas! Too bad there isn't any real Halloween-themed stuff here...yet. Maybe some day!

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