I have had the pleasure of spending the last two Halloweens in Norway. (AKA I meticulously planned and made it just so happen that my time off university fell into this perfect autumn spot of spooks, drinking and candy fun!)
Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year and that means that there needs to be at least one Halloween party to truly delve into the fun of the time. It can however feel extremely odd to celebrate a holiday in a different country when you’ve become so accustomed to how things are done elsewhere. This year will actually be the first time I spend Christmas in Norway (my parents are even visiting too!) I have no idea how they’re going to deal with everything being on the 24th December. It is certainly going to be amusing to say the least.
The best parties I go to here in Norway are always Halloween parties. Having an excuse to dress up yourself and others is always great fun and gives that extra edge to a party! But, that’s not to say that Norwegians don’t know how to party normally, I’ve certainly been caught out more times than I’d like to admit by this pesky little trolls…
There is a Norwegian expression called ‘Fylleangst’ which there is no exact word translation for in English. This expression can be described as ‘drunk anxiety’ or that feeling you get when you wake up from a heavy night of drinking, not completely sure of your actions the previous night, or if you should be worried about them. Having visited my partner here in Norway for the past 3 years I can fully understand why the Norwegians have this word. The price of alcohol over here can be expensive to put it mildly. You can ending up spending three times the amount you would on Wine or Spirits in the rest of Europe and supermarkets don’t sell anything over 5%. Therefore they pretty much just sell beer and the occasional cider. This can make the alcohol in your hand pretty precious. With this feeling in mind there are a lot of Norwegians that think if they’re drinking, they can’t stop until they can properly feel the alcohol in their bodies.
If anyone is planning a trip to Norway and wanted to drink whilst here I would strongly advise buying alcohol at the duty free at the airport. Gardemeon has the biggest selection in their duty free than any airport I have ever been in. You can always tell the Norwegians coming home from trips at the airport, no Norwegian would forgo the price of alcohol there even if they only drink once in a blue moon. I can only assume that the rest of the airports in Norway are this well stocked.
With my roots in England being very obvious as soon as I open my mouth, I have been asked a few times…how do you not have a direct translation for ‘fylleangst’? Unfortunately I think that there are too many British holiday makers out in top seaside destinations such as Spain and Greece giving the rest of us brits a bad reputation. Most Norwegians I have met have drawn a parallel between those individuals and my English heritage. The tales of the English ‘pub culture’ are strong.
Norway and the Halloween tradition
Although they celebrate Halloween in Norway, they do not celebrate it to that same extent the English do, and definitely not to the Americans. My family went to Florida when I was about 8 years old whilst it was Halloween and it was insane how much effort people put into the holiday. Even the toll booths on the road were covered head to toe in decorations.
So what’s different in Norway at this spooky time of the year? The most famous Halloween tradition is of course ‘Trick or Treating’ or ‘knesk eller knep’ which translates to the English term pretty spot on. There has been a lot of debate in Norway over the years whether trick or treating is a good thing however there are plenty of homes in Norway that join in on the tradition. If you have young children and want to take them out on Halloween night I think you should go for it! I know where I live most houses that are participating either put a pumpkin or lights outside there house to make it obvious whether they are joining in on this newer tradition in Norway.
The first year I came here for Halloween I discovered my boyfriend in all his, then 27 years had never carved a pumpkin. I thought he was joking but no. He had never and neither had his parents. Thus the quest for a pumpkin began. We looked everywhere… Joker, Extra, Kiwi, Rema1000, Meny, Maximat (In Sweden). Not a single pumpkin to be found. I was left disappointed. The past two years however we have been able to find them in Meny and Extra but be warned they can cost up to £12 for the same size pumpkin you would get from Sainsbury’s for £2. Buying that first pumpkin for 120 kr hurt my soul a tad bit. The accomplishment on Marius’ face once he finished making these Jack Skellington and Cat Pumpkins though was all worth it! My partner says Halloween is becoming more and more celebrated ever year that goes by in Norway from what he can see. I hope he’s right because I adore Halloween and all those spooky decorations.
There are not too many stores that sell Halloween decorations or costumes, especially compared to England. Oh how I enjoyed the annual Halloween décor trip to Pound land. There is a store here called Nille that I would say is Norway’s nearest thing to a pound shop and you can get some cheap stuff there, including Halloween decorations. However, if there is one thing you can rely on Norway for to really shine, its candles. I have never seen so many candles in my life since moving here, they are everywhere, including Halloween themed ones. This year so far I’ve bought 3 pumpkin candles, 2 skulls and a white block bat candle. This country is making me slightly obsessed with candles and I’ve come to accept that. All these wood houses and candle lit rooms, its sooooo cosy.
This year we’re going to be dressing as Star-Lord and Captain America, not exactly scary but they’re costumes we wanted to be able to use more than once this year! Fortunate for me my university graduation is in England on the 24th October so we are making a very quick trip back home and I can pick up all the Halloween costume parts I have ordered at the same time. Posting to Norway can be tricky, and frustrating and if you want a good Halloween costume you need to start preparing at least a month before to allow for postage time! And beware! Anything from abroad that costs over £25 will hit you with a fine off about the same amount to pick up. Ouch! I’m sure there are cheaper ways of going about it but I am still learning the language and unless you know specifically what to search for in Norwegian it is very unlikely you’ll find it. I’m sure it’s something I’ll get better at. If you know any good Halloween websites here in Norway or Sweden I’d love to hear about them!