Sunday, January 01, 2006

Swedes and their holidays

One thing I love about Sweden is the fact that almost anything can be an excuse for a national holiday. If a holiday falls on a Thursday, then Friday must also become a holiday, because god forbid you have to back to work for ONLY ONE DAY.

And for each holiday, there must be one or two other holidays to go with it. For example, Christmas by itself is not enough. In addition to "Julafton" and "Juldagen," you must have also have "Annandag Jul" (the day after Christmas, known to the Brits as Boxing Day) and "Trettondedag jul" (Jan 6, or 13 days after Christmas).

I got into a discussion about this last night with a Swedish guy at the dinner party I attended. Much to my horror, he told me how they had held a celebration combining Halloween and Thanksgiving. Why their office was celebrating Thanksgiving is another question, and one to which I do not have an answer.

But anyyway, the point is that these two days are entirely INCOMPATIBLE. THERE IS NO CONNECTION.

The combination was bizarre. It consisted of Halloween decorations with Thanksgiving food. This would be like me trying to combine Lucia Day with Midsommar, which are probably two of the most "Swedish" holidays. I'm going to show up for the strawberries and sill wearing a wreath of candles.

To begin with, Swedes have a very strange relationship with Halloween. They can't seem to decide between the American-style holiday held on October 31 and their own "Alla Helgons dag" (All Saints Day) on the following Saturday.

There is a collective crisis: Which one should we dress up for? When do we go trick or treating? And the pumpkins, what do we do with the god damned pumpkins?

I think the pumpkin can be blamed for the confusion between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Let me simplify it for you:

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis is a Jack O' Latern (left). You carve it for HALLOWEEN.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis is a slice of pumpkin pie (right). You eat it for dessert on THANKSGIVING. With whipped cream. After the turkey, the sweet potatos, the green beans, the mashed potatos, and the cranberry sauce.

To be honest, I really don't care what you do with Halloween, but Thanksgiving is sacred. It occurs on the fourth thursday of November. Not the second, not the fifth, not the first Saturday, the FOURTH THURSDAY. It's about giving thanks and being with family and friends. And you know, all the stuff about the Pilgrims and the Indians.

After all of this lecture, if you really feel the need to combine Thanksgiving and Halloween, feel free to dress up like a turkey on Halloween, but please continue to celebrate Thanksgivng on THE FOURTH Thursday of November. If you don't, I'm going to take the biggest herring I can find and beat you with it.


Blogger oscar said...

And here I was, almost sure that it was on the seventh sunday of July.

Tihi. Now I demand to get beaten up with a herring. Preferably fermented.

7:14 PM  
Blogger draksessan said...

but seriously... why should swedes celebrate thanksgiving at all???

7:24 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

darksessan, I don't know really. but if you ARE going to celebrate Thanksgiving, it should be done properly.

7:28 PM  
Blogger The Pale Green Woman said...

Är det någon svensk överhuvudtaget som firar Thanksgiving? Har du hittat en sån?

7:42 PM  
Anonymous mia said...

Jag firar inte ens Halloween. Tycker inte om att blanda in en av handeln påtvingad kommersiell "helgdag", som har noll förankring med svenska seder, med allhelgonahelgen som handlar om att tänka på och hedra sina avlidna nära och kära och sätta ljus på gravarna. Det är helt enkelt för att Halloween totalt saknar någon förankring förutom en orsak för handeln att tjäna pengar som gör att de blandas ihop.

Men barnen tycker ju det är kul att klä ut sig så... Vill man fira Halloween får man väl göra det - men mig ger det ingenting. När det gäller "bus" och "godis" som de översatt det till så har svenska barn påsken och skärtorsdag då man klär ut sig till påskkärring. Det gjorde jag när jag var liten och ritade fina påskkort som man "sålde" till folk för godis eller en slant. (Hmm det var ju faktiskt riktigt kul nu när man tänker efter. LOL)

Thanksgiving har jag aldrig firat och inte hört om någon som har gjort heller. Men det är hellre en sådan helgdag jag skulle "importera" än Halloween! Det tycker jag verkar vara en fin tradition det lilla jag vet från amerikanska filmer - en tradition som åtminstone har ett allmänmänskligt budskap av tacksamhet.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Trashie said...

Inte heller jag har någonsin hört om att folk brukar fira thanksgiving. Visserligen äter vi kalkon då och då, men mycket mer än så är det inte. ;)
Halloween är, åtminstondei min vänskapskrets egentligen bara ett fest-tema. Vi kan också ha en eller ett par "dekorerade" pumpor hemma.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Me said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Me said...

On the subject of mixing up the holidays, I think the prize has to go the Japanese.
A couple of years ago, one of the major department stores in Tokyo had a crucified Santa Claus as part of their Christmas decoration on the outer wall.

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with draksessan... why do thanksgiving at all?

If it's to be done, I think I'd rather do it wrong and have some fun, and certainly won't be treating it as a precious and big event that comes anywhere close to Christmas Eve, New Years, Midsommer, etc.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous A said...

I have never heard of anyone else combining Thanksgiving and Halloween and the thought is just disturbing. Neither Thanksgiving or Halloween are traditionally celebrated here, although Halloween just recently gained grounds as "imported economical milking cow" for salesmen. Its existance here is rather controversial and is just merely accepted among either young parents with children to dress up or people trying to find yet another reason to get drunk. All-Saints Day however, is a true tradition.

You conclusions about Swedes are entertaining, but please get some facts straight or at least widen your sources :)

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hej Lotta!
I think that both thanksgiving and halloween should be completely banned in sweden! Why? Because honestly, they are completely meaningless...We have our own little times of funkiness, like Lucia and Midsommar, and celebrating Halloween...well basically it's just another time to consume with money we don't have and get anxiety for crap that we really don't need to have anxiety over. Also, Thanksgiving..what the fuck is that anyway? Another lame excuse to kill of a huge amount of means absolutely nothing to me anyway, and if I ever should want to celebrate either, I will probably be in america where it DOES mean something to someone, apperantly. :P

/Marianne som önskar dig en god fortsättning!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous tk said...

villken helgdag skulle sillsmiskningen inträffa?
för det måste väl bli en helgdag?

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Webb said...

Like 'merkins don't get July 3rd off, if the fourth is on a Saturday..

8:19 PM  
Blogger TooBlue said...

Oh, GOD. Pumpkin pie. We tried so hard... really we did. Anyway, yes, they are NOT the same.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Martinja said...

Hmm...det här med att fira Thanksgiving och Halloween samtidigt har jag aldrig varit med om här. Känner INGEN som firar Thanksgiving ens - möjligtvis min mosters man då som är från USA... Och Halloween firar jag inte heller. Det är bara en komersiell ploj som affärerna trycker på oss för att sälja mer. Visst har man varit med på nån halvpaptetisk maskeradkväll men jag bryr mig inte ett skvatt om den dan och känner inte någon som egentligen firar det heller.

Alltså, för att klargöra: vi svenskar blandar inte dessa högtider, verkar inte så från kommentarerna heller...

Tack och adjö och trevlig midsommar med Jesusbarnet :P

12:26 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

Alltså, för att klargöra: vi svenskar blandar inte dessa högtider, verkar inte så från kommentarerna heller...

Okay, I should probably clarify. I wasn't saying that ALL Swedes mix-up their holidays (although I do think I'm right that Swedes do love a good excuse for another day off from work and there does seem to be some confusion over whether or not to celebrate Halloween OR Alla Helgons dag OR both), but was rather talking about the particular Swedes who mixed them up for their office party. ;)

4:49 PM  
Anonymous jmax said...

The amazing thing is that Swedes love criticize Halloween as something commercial forced onto them by America also treat it as if it's a whole season, like Jul. As I've walked around Stockholm, I've seen windows decorated with strings of pumpkin lights and more. People attend Halloween parties for at least three weekends, and I've had kids in costume ringing the bell the first weekend in November.

At least it's celebrated only one day in the states.

And as for its "purely American" roots. It's a pretty short etymological line from "All helgons afton" to "All hollow's eve."

12:25 AM  
Blogger Cee said...

Det är så hysteriskt fånigt när svenskar ondgör sig över alla "nya kommersiella högtider som köpmännen importerar".

För det första, Lucia är ett katolskt helgon från Italien!! Känns ju inte ett dugg importerad..Nejdå.

För det andra, så kan alla människor själva välja hur mycket pengar/svett/tårar man lägger på en helgdag. Man kan tälja fina smörknivar till hela släkten i julklapp om man inte vill delta i den allmänna hysterin. Men snälla, sluta få det att låta som om svenskar är små våp som inte kan ta egna beslut, utan är totalt hjälntvättade av sin lokala ICAhandlare...

2:46 AM  

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