Trick-or-Treat Your Swedish Street: Recruit your neighbors. You have until next weekend.
[Re]Create the Halloween trick-or-treating environment from your childhood right here in Sweden.
While the North American date to trick-or-treat is stuck on 31st October, the good news is that it’s much more flexible here in Sweden. Halloween is often considered the N. American version of the Swedish Alla Helgons Dag (All Saint’s Day) and that’s on November 5 this year. You still have time to recruit your neighbors if they aren’t home on the 31st.
Bring Halloween to your ‘hood’
Three years ago I decided if I couldn’t bring my young children to Halloween (I was seriously considering traveling to my hometown) I would bring Halloween to my children. Inspired by a Swedish friend who had arranged for the neighbors in their apartment building to dole out candy to their children I set out to recruit my own neighbors.
We were new to the street so I figured at the very least I would get to know my neighbors even if they weren’t too keen on a Halloween coup. I put on my best smile and started knocking on doors.
Recruit the neighborhood kids first
The first doors I knocked on were the ones with small children. This event was to be a ghoulish children’s block party rather than a theater to entertain my own. Armed with the emotive plan of opening doors to the whole street’s children I set out to win the hearts of the rest of the neighbors and to get them to open their homes.
Hope for the best
I went prepared that at the very worst there would be snide comments about the Americanization of the solemn Swedish holiday Alla Helgonsdagen, All Saint’s Day, a day of remembrance when Swedes visit the graves of the departed and light a candle. At the very least I counted on some reserved skepticism. With these anticipated voices of protest we parents planned to provide the candy the neighbors would distribute. One after another, each neighbor gleefully refused any offers of candy stock and assured me that they would take care of it themselves.
Pick a date
We took slight liberties with the actual trick-or-treating date. The 31st was a weekday, so we decided we would trick-or-treat on the Friday evening before the Swedish holiday. All neighbors received a notice stating the date and time the children would be coming round. They were asked to light a candle or make something cozy to indicate that the children were welcome.
Feel the love
As the 8-10 children hit the street we were met by lanterns burning and Halloween decorations adorning most houses. Each
neighbor who was home opened with huge smiles and the mother load of candy for the children. Some neighbors made individual candy packages which would have been enough in total, let alone as the stash from just one house.
I was happiest knowing that I didn’t have check any of the candy the kids carried home. If it was unwrapped or homemade or a piece of fruit I could let them eat it! After all, who would tamper with it? Sven and Birgitta next door? I literally had greeted each and every one of them and they were my neighbors.
Do it again
The event has now become annual where everyone, young and old, look forward to Halloween. These days, I only knock on a door if it’s a new neighbor. It’s my annual opportunity to get to know the neighbors I haven’t met yet.
One elderly set of neighbors sent an Easter greeting to our children the following Easter. They said that they missed the Easter Witches and hoped we would send some children around the following Easter. At the next Halloween event they asked me straight out to arrange for Easter Witches. So I concurred and arranged for another door-to-door activity: This time, 100% Swedish.
Our street is looking forward to it again for the 2011 season and I get a feeling that we’ll have more neighborhood children from nearby streets coming by. But we know that trick-or-treating is free game for Swedish children throughout the first weekend in November, so we’re going to keep a stash for the drop-in trick-or-treater.
Don’t forget that you don’t need to live in a house to recruit your neighbor. I’ve heard of loads of people recruiting neighbors on the same floor or even the whole apartment building. And even if you don’t want to arrange for it for this year, start the recruiting process for next year and use the opportunity to get to know your neighbors.
Bus eller godis! (Swedish translation for trick-or-treat)
By Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius