Swedish Ways: Alla helgons dag

All Hallows Eve, All Saint’s Day, or as we call it in Sweden: Alla helgons dag or Allhelgonadagen falls this weekend. Technically, I think it’s All Saint’s Eve followed by All Saint’s Day, but the Saturday is a red letter day in the calendar. The object is to pay hommage to the dead.

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It’s not the excitement of the Mexican Festival of the Dead, nor does it really have anything to do with actual saints – Sweden’s a Lutheran Protestant country, so we traditionally don’t really “do” saints. No, instead, it’s the time of year when people visit the graves of their loved ones, light a candle and perhaps lay a fresh wreath by the tombstone. It sure lights up the graveyards at night!

Other than that, there’s nothing much else going on, to be honest. Halloween? Yeah, it’s wiggled its way into Sweden too. From what I gathered from a comment a Swedish friend made on Twitter the other day, a custom seems to have developed: if there’s a pumpkin outside the house, kids can go trick-or-treating there. No pumpkin, no welcome. Brilliant.

We didn’t have a pumpkin outside the house, but there was only one knock – two tweenage lads with carrier bags. They got a Cadbury’s Brunch Bar each, because that’s all we really have in the house. Okay, unless you count the Squeeze’s highly sought after Lidl chocolate (that they’ve stopped selling here in the UK, but still sell in Germany) – or my stash of salty liquorice. The first stash is off-limits, the second is of no use here, because Brits won’t eat salty liquorice. It’s more of a Dutch and Scandinavian thing. (Found a sweetshop in the Netherlands that had a very impressive selection. Joy!)

I think it might be Father’s Day in Sweden tomorrow. I’ll have to phone my parents and have a chat just in case. It’s confusing to have parents in a country with different dates than the country you live in!

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