Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween in Norway

Since today is Halloween, we decided to bring you a post about Halloween in Norway, written by our own Cultural Advisor, Colin Thomsen.

Until recently, Norwegians by and large did not celebrate Halloween. In fact, Halloween was virtually unknown in Norway before the late ‘90s. When the cartoon classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was translated into Norwegian, the Great Pumpkin became the Old Man of Olsok. It’s not completely clear how the holiday started to catch on over there. Many Norwegians feel that American candy companies have tried to market trick-or-treating, while others say Donald Duck comics have helped promote the holiday. Whatever the origins, Halloween in Norway is a lot like Halloween in the States, even if some of the finer points have gotten lost in the translation.

Instead of saying “trick or treat” in English when the door is answered, Norwegian kids say “knask eller knep” or “digg eller deng” which both mean about the same thing as the English phrase. According to recent media reports, Norwegian kids tend to take the “trick” part a little too seriously. Egging and other forms of vandalism are quite common, especially because not every household participates.

This recent article from NRK quotes Asbjørn Schølberg, head of Eldreklubben (a club for older people) in Elverum who is not amused by Halloween pranks:

[Schølberg] has himself been the target of the kinds of tricks kids can get up to on Halloween. He has occasionally had to repaint his front door after it’s been ruined by egging…

“Older people are alone and scared of what kids might do when they come…Also it’s very annoying to have so many people coming to the door” says Schølberg.

According to another article, some Norwegian kids don’t stop celebrating on the 31st. If Halloween falls on or near a weekend as it does this year, the trick-or-treating can go on for one or two extra days.

Of course, the vast majority of Norwegian trick-or-treaters are just out for a good time, and the holiday seems like a natural fit for a society that’s so focused on its children. This article from Aftenposten is a virtual how-to for anyone looking to get in on the fun.

Have a fun and safe Halloween everyone!

No comments: