Halloween and All Saint’s Day

Hejhej! Different cultures celebrate holidays differently, so I wanted to go over the Halloween/All Hallow’s Eve situation in Sweden.

The first thing to know about Halloween is that the US is the unique country in how we celebrate. Other cultures don’t tend to embrace it as much as us, though some areas are definitely trying to copy the US style. That is the thing that made celebrating strange, as I had a mix of traditional Swedish culture (aka don’t really acknowledge it) and copied US American culture (getting very dressed up). My friend Leah and I went into Malmö to piece together costumes from good finds at thrift stores on Friday. We ended up embracing our own culture and dressing up like hippies. It was a fun and easy costume, though it almost felt like I was dressing up like some of my friends from back home. 

Saturday morning, a group of us went to brunch at one of the nations, which was a really fun cheap meal. For 70sek (about $7), I got coffee, a smoothie, Japanese pancakes, and icecream. I really enjoy the way that the nations make eating out (and not cooking) affordable as a social activity for students.

That afternoon, Leah and I were invited to a small ‘salsa party’ being hosted by one of my salsa classmates. Erik is one of the guys in my salsa class that just lives in Lund (he isn’t a student anymore and grew up in Lund), and he is leaving this week for a month long job training in Germany. As one of his last events, he hosted a small get together to practice salsa and hang out. It was really fun to get to practice with my classmates outside of the salsa class. We got to know each other better this way. Another friend from my salsa class is a girl from the Netherlands who is here on her Erasmus semester, Ellen. Ellen’s corridor was hosting a Halloween costume party that night, so Leah and I ate dinner, put on our costumes, and biked over to her place. This was the part of the Halloween celebrations that felt very American, as everyone was dressed up and dancing.

Rather than resting after a long night out, Leah and her roommate Minako invited me to travel to Copenhagen on Sunday to visit Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is a large amusement park that is somewhat similar to Elitches back in Denver. Tivoli gets decorated each season for different events, and was done up for Halloween, so we wandered around got to see all of the neat lights and pumpkin decorations. I’m glad that I got to see the decorations, though, because it reminded me of being back in the US with all of our decorations. 

Halloween was actually on Monday, but I think that most people were partied out from the weekend. There weren’t a lot of parties on campus or people dressing up. I did see some kids on Saturday and Monday that were dressed up and trick-or-treating, but my apartment neighborhood was not the place to go visit (we must not give out good candy). One thing that really caught me off guard was the fact that no one wishes each other a “Happy Halloween” in Sweden. I didn’t really say it to anyone except a couple of Americans on my program that I ran into, but one of my friends pointed out no one else really mentions it. I know that the actual day of Halloween is less about getting candy and celebrating, as my friend Emil mentioned that he was going to visit the cemetery with his father on All Saints Day (November 5th). I actually had lunch with Emil on All Saint’s Day and he mentioned that they were going to bring candles to his grandparents’ graves that evening. He sent me a photo, which looked very sentimental and pretty. It was neat to see the differences, though I wasn’t necessarily expecting culture shock over this holiday. 

And now we enter into the strange part of Halloween with Sweden. In the US, I feel as though we celebrate ‘spooky season’ throughout October, then drop it as soon as November hits. Then we enter into the fun Thanksgiving/Christmas season. In Sweden, it seems like Halloween is celebrated from the weekend before the day through the weekend afterwards (maybe even longer, only time will tell). For instance, a couple of the nations are hosting Halloween themed clubs tonight. There was also a haunted house set up by Hemgården last Thursday. Don’t get me wrong, parts of society have fully moved on to Christmas (such as the decorations at stores new lights in the streets). Yet certain groups are still keeping up the Halloween spirit after I would’ve let it die down. One of those fun little cultural differences, I suppose.


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