Halloween in Scandinavia – Do they celebrate?

The origin of the Halloween celebration is by many believed to be rooted in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31st. Today, we know October 31st is the eve of All Hallows Day or Halloween. This is the day when ghosts return to the earthly world. To avoid the ghosts it is said you should dress up as one of them in order not to be recognized. What do you think, can you trick the ghosts with your costume?

Halloween is celebrated by more than 160 million Americans each year. The celebration includes activities such as trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes, attend Halloween parties, carving pumpkins into scary looking lanterns, playing pranks, tell each other scary stories, or visiting haunted places hoping to see some real ghosts.

But how about the Scandinavians? Do they celebrate?

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Yes, they do! In Scandinavia, Halloween is a fairly new concept. It was not until the mid/late 90′ that Halloween became a well-known, and not to mention, commercialized, concept in the region.

Just like in the United States, the Scandinavian kids will wait until the dark hours before they head to the streets to trick-or-treat in their scary costumes, hoping for some sweets from their neighbors. One exception, however, might be Finland, where the trick-and-treating isn’t really an established Halloween activity (yet). Nevertheless, for all the other Scandinavian countries, the dressing up and the trick-or-treating amongst the kids has become a well-known tradition.

Although Halloween is mainly celebrated by children and teenagers in Scandinavia, adults take great joy from the evening too, by attending fancy parties dressed up as anything. The costumes do not have to be scary, the point is the dressing up itself.


Photo by Bekir Donmez

Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is just as common in Scandinavia as in the United States. So is the decorating of shops and pubs. And, not the mention, the food!

Since the Halloween tradition is somewhat new in Scandinavia, the Scandinavian food traditions related to the celebration do not differ much from the United States’. That is, pumpkin pies, pumpkin soups, or anything else pumpkin based, is the main ingredient in the Scandinavian Halloween food.

Happy Halloween from the New Scandinavian Cooking team! We hope you get to eat a lot of pumpkins!

Photo by Aaron Burden