I must admit this was one of the strangest Halloweens we have celebrated abroad yet. It all started a month before Halloween, when the kids start planning their Halloween costumes in preparation for the big night. But we had been told early on, that Swedes don’t really celebrate Halloween. It’s just not big here. I checked some expat blogs. They all said the same thing. There may be an occasional party at a bar or pub, but no Trick or Treating. I found a flyer for a local Halloween party, but it was more for toddler aged children to attend. We asked the manager at the climbing gym and he said, “No. It’s not done here.” When I asked him why, he said, “You know, ‘stranger danger.'” We asked our new Swedish friends if they celebrate Halloween (and they have an 11 year old boy). They said no, they don’t go Trick or Treating. Although we saw a party store in the shopping mall near us put out their Halloween display and costumes, we just assumed maybe this was for Halloween parties people might have in their homes or something. With all the signs pointing to No Trick or Treating we just sort of reluctantly shrugged off Halloween. The kids were not happy about it, believe me.
On top of this, I made the mistake of putting off the purchasing of pumpkins too late. Well, not too late. We did buy one large pumpkin mid week. We were so busy that I kept telling the kids, “We have to carry these on the bus. Let’s do it when we aren’t carrying all these groceries.” So, I bought one pumpkin, with the promise that we would come back and buy two more when our hands were empty. There were about 12 good sized pumpkins on the floor on the 28th. I thought, they won’t be gone by the 30th. Guess what? They were gone. All of them. At least we had one big pumpkin for all to share. People had been carving and putting pumpkins out for decorations. I should have known better.
Friday night came. This was the night before Halloween. We hadn’t even carved our pumpkin yet. We were going to do that on Saturday afternoon just for fun because, you know, No Trick or Treating. We were not expecting Trick or Treaters. We were sitting at the dinner table eating dinner. There was a knock at the door. I’m thinking “another kid fundraising, or another charity organization.” I go to answer the door. Guess what? Three little girls all dressed as vampires held out their bags. “Bus eller godis!” Oh. My. Goodness. We had no candy. I was utterly confused. It wasn’t even Halloween, officially, but how would they know this? I explained that we had no candy and I asked them if they were going to go Trick or Treating tomorrow night as well. But they had no clue what I was saying to them. Ugh. A second knock came. Sorry, no godies. At the third and fourth knock, we stopped answering the door.
The following day (Halloween) we went for a nice hike with our Swedish friends in the woods by their house. We told them our story about Trick or Treaters coming to the door. They confirmed with us yet again, that no, they don’t Trick or Treat, and that Olle was not planning to go Trick or Treating, but that on Sunday (the day after Halloween) there would be a big Halloween parade in downtown Stockholm where everyone was going to dress up and march in it. Hmmmm. OK.
Before all this had happened, when I thought there was no Trick or Treating and we were resigned to the fact they would not be going Trick or Treating I told them I would buy them each a bag of loose candy to celebrate Halloween. We were now calling this the Backup Bag of Candy. Before I go any further, I must tell you that loose candy here is VERY popular. In all the grocery stores, a whole wall is devoted to loose, bulk candy. Mostly, these are gummy candies, or what they refer to as godies. After our hike, on our way to the store, the kids decided that yes, they too would go out tonight in hopes that people would be giving out candy on Halloween night. Other kids had done it last night, so they would try it out too. Besides, this was officially Halloween night. “So, why am I buying you this Backup Bag of Candy for if you are going out Trick or Treating?” “Well, you know, it’s our Backup Candy. You know, in case it doesn’t work out.” Smartly played. I went along. I also noticed many adults in the store loading up bags of loose candy. I’m thinking dang, that’s a lot of candy. I’m at the other wall purchasing bags of any kind of pre-wrapped candies and chocolates I can find. Not too many to choose from, but I found enough pre-wrapped candies to get us through the night.
Next, we carved our pumpkin. This was the first year I didn’t have to scoop out the pumpkin guts. We ended up with a three faced pumpkin. We set it up outside with some candles under a clear table (it was a windy night). Finally, the kids began figuring out what their costumes would be. Having not planned this out, they discovered a little makeup solves any costume problem. Got eyeliner and eyeshadow? Stitches and black eyes = creepy, dark, scary. Carry around your skateboard and you’re a skater. Simple as that. Darkness comes at 4:00 here, so they waited until about 5:00 before heading out into the neighborhood. I told them to be in by 7:00. In America this would have given them ample time to get a bag full of candy. Right? They came back 30 minutes later. They were not to happy. They had given up hope. They came back with this in each of their bags.
They ended up knocking on a few doors without Halloween decorations. No one would answer the door. Then they tried knocking on homes that had lighted pumpkins. These people answered the door but gave one or two pieces of loose candy, like one gummy fish. Finn said he got his hopes up when they knocked on a door and the man said “I’m from New York!” He thought they would get something big, like a mini candy bar. But no. He gave them one sucker. It was a short lived experience. They came home with their heads hung low, but happy for the Backup Bag of Candy. They answered the door about five times and those same little girls from the night before came back dressed as witches. They were quite happy when we gave them a handful of godies. Now that’s how you do it.