Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween in Norway... Knask eller Knep!

Quiet start to the day, then Pam took the kids shopping to give me a break. I helped a teacher move some furniture into her flat in Bakklandet with some other teachers, and then we went for a spontaneous walk down to a pub. It's been warm weather this week, and it's still holding out for Halloween!

After an early dinner (stuff 'em full of veggies first!) it was time to get ready for Halloween night. Maggie dressed as Athena, goddess of war, went trick-or-treating with friend Fr√ły in her neighborhood. Peter went off with Louis to meet a group of friends of school. I walked around our neighborhood with Anna, dressed as a cat.

Halloween is a new holiday in Norway, perhaps only 5 years old, but it is catching on quickly. The trick-or-treating tradition has caught on quickly with children, but adults are a little slower on the uptake. Kids start around 6 pm and seem to finish around 8 or 8:30.

Peter and his friends went door-to-door in Bakklandet, an area of close-knit neighborhoods with lots of children and artists, and he did extrememly well.  In our neighborhood, though, we saw maybe 1 in 20 houses were decorated, even though we live right next to an elementary school. We knew the decorated houses would have candy, and they did. We stopped at other lit-up houses and got lucky on a few, but not at others. Anna and I quickly decided to stop only at the decorated houses. We did a big loop around the neighborhood, scoring a modest amount of candy. Mostly, I think, she was just happy to be out walking around with her dad on an exciting night. Her dad was happy with that, too.

Back at the house, Pam had decorated outside with warm candles and welcoming signs, and we had maybe 30 kids stop by in a groups of about 4-8. "Knask eller knep!" they call out (meaning literally "treat or trick", the reverse of in English).

We are delighted that the kids can go their separate ways with friends and be safe. That's one of the nicest things about Norway.

After the kids were in bed, Pam and I played Catan with some friends and slept very soundly. So, we'll have a quiet day today. Well, "quiet" is relative of course. The kids are bouncing around and yelling upstairs joyfully right now. It's all sugar-powered. I better go and cut up a few plates of vegetables to put around the house.

OK, one more picture: here's a treat Peter got at someone's house, a GIANT candy bar. He says that I think the person didn't know what to do with a Trick or Treater! I hope they weren't nervous that he would do a malicious trick if they didn't come up with a treat – he must have been their very first Trick or Treater. Yes, the children are teaching the adults. While Anna and I were out, we saw two small groups of boys ran past us, going house to house, pushing all the doorbells (many houses are duplexes), waiting impatiently 15 seconds, and then running to the next house if there was no answer. Many knocks were unanswered, and I can easily imagine people hiding inside, fearful in the private Norwegian way, thinking that they must try to remember to make cookies next year.

And so comes change to Norway. A new tradition is dawning. The children have it and will keep it and pass it on forevermore. The young are doing their part to train the adults. I expect Halloween will be big in Norway in a few years.

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