Dressing up as witches, vampires and other ghoulish things has become increasing popular in Sweden. However, the traditional way of celebrating this time of year is much more serene and romantic.
In Sweden, the first Saturday in November is All Saints’ Day – not necessarily November 1st as in most other countries. In 1983, the Sunday after All Saints’ Day was given the official name All Souls’ Day to separate between the saints and the dead.
Since the 1800’s Swedes have, during this weekend, made pilgrimage to graveyards up and down the country to decorate the graves with candle light.
It is a beautiful experience to walk through the churchyards this weekend. In the pitch black November Nordic darkness, it is a peaceful reminder of those who have gone before us. If you happen to be in Stockholm, head for the Forest graveyard (Skogskyrkogården) for a specifically spectacular experience.
Today is Halloween and in Sweden, the tradition seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year: Jack O’Lanterns everywhere, orange and black, masquerades, scary window decorations.
Most people associate Halloween with USA, but the tradition originated in British Isles and was taken overseas by the immigrants.
Because it’s Halloween, I thought I’d share a childhood memory of the tradition from when I lived in the UK. When I was about 10, we were instructed by the teacher to write a poem about each month of the year. Since I have always loved to write, I set about the task diligently. But when I got to October, I got stuck, I could only get the first line…
‘October, now it’s Halloween,‘
So I asked my mum for help. She sat down beside me, and almost immediately came up with the next line!
‘October, now it’s Halloween
Ghosts and ghoulies can be seen!’
She was so proud of herself. But I laughed hysterically.
You see, in the 70’s ‘goolies’ was slang for testicles! ‘Ghouls’ means ghosts.
Sometimes grown-ups just don’t get it.