Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween in Norway: Knep eller Knask?

Living on top of a quiet, steep hill last Halloween, we didn't have a good idea of exactly how Halloween was celebrated in Norway. We've had a number of folks tell us that the holiday didn't come to Norway until about 10 years ago, and it seems a bit slow to catch on.

Halloween in Norway is a holiday that celebrates the scary, ghoulish, and gruesome. It also seems to be a holiday aimed at the school aged kids, but not so much the pre-school or high school kids. So no adorable pea-pod costumes for the babies, no Curious George costumes for the toddlers, no princess costumes for the 3 1/2 year olds. . .

. . . that is, until Greta came to town.

Seeing that our life these days can best be described as chaotic, I hadn't given Halloween too much thought, until a local American-married-to-Norwegian friend invited us to come to their home and neighborhood for Trick or Treating. I felt guilty for about, oh--two seconds, over the fact that Greta didn't have a darling new Halloween costume. Then I realized that she's 3, and has no clue what Halloween is about. For that matter, we have no clue what Halloween is about in Norway, so I quickly got over that initial mamma-guilt.

I dug Greta's fairy wings and fairy crown out of storage, and she lit up with excitement when I did the big costume reveal on Halloween night. Voila! Your regular dress-up purple princess/fairy dress and fairy wings that you haven't seen in 4 months! She was all for it. We layered up on wool long underwear and fleece, and we were set. That is, until she spotted a single square inch of pink satin sticking out of a bag.

"What's that?" she asked, curiously.
"Just. . . uh. . . a pink hat." It was, in fact, an entire pink satin princess ensemble lent to me by my friend Kim the American as a possible costume for Greta. In the spirit of "keeping life simple" and "what does she know about not wearing everyday dress-up clothes for Halloween anyway?", and in a hope to avoid any post-Halloween breakdowns when we had to give the costume back, I had kept the pink costume in a bag to return to its owner.

"What hat?" she asks, eyes wide.
"Oh. . this one? Do you want to wear it?" I ask, acting surprised. I manage to do a fancy, magic mamma move and keep the dress in the bag while only pulling out the hat--one of those pointy, cone shaped princess-in-a-tower kind of hats, with the streaming, glittery tulle off the top.

Greta has already removed her fairy crown, but her little mind is too sharp. "What else is in there?" she wonders, and she reaches for the bag.

"Oh. . . this pink dress?" I'm doomed. Greta is tearing off the fairy wings and yanking the purple princess/fairy dress off her shoulders. She couldn't get that pink dress on fast enough.

We went trick or treating with Kim and her 8 year old daughter and niece--all 3 witches of some sort, as well as two dads of American/Norwegian families and their two respective 5 year-old sons, who were a skeleton and a dragon. The dragon costume was totally awesome. And totally American. Kim escorted us around the neighborhood, which seems to have a high proportion of Americans, Brits and Norwegians-who-have-lived-abroad-and-understand-the-concept-of-Halloween living there. The neighborhood was certainly not mobbed with Trick or Treaters, asking "Knep eller Knask?", not even half the homes were participating, and most of them didn't have jack o' lanterns out. But it was a wonderful crisp fall evening and Greta was thrilled to pieces.

As for the princess costume, it was a big hit, with kid, neighbors and parents alike. The neighbors were delighted to see a charming pink princess instead of a bloody, bludgeoned head on their doorstep. And Greta practically floated around the neighborhood. I think we have some time before she embraces the gory, Norwegian Halloween, which is fine with me. On our walk around the neighborhood, she announced, "I don't like the scary costumes, I just like the pretty ones."

Perhaps we'll start a campaign for Cute or Clever Costumes for Kids for Halloween.

1 comment:

  1. Good try, but seems like it's not that easy to pull one over Greta. ;)
    I miss trick or treaters! Our celebration was much more like the college version of the holiday haha...I think you know what I mean...