October 31st, 2003


May you all have a great Sam'hain

Just heard on the radio about Halloween..

Sweden doesn't have any tradition with Halloween.. but some years ago, the businessmen thought.. "Well.. Swedes have seen they celebrate Halloween in USA in lots and lots of movies.. so.. why don't we start selling Halloween stuff and get the Swedes to "mimic" what they've seen in the movies etc.. ". That way... the last couple of years, the stores have been filled with Halloween stuff, despite the fact that we doesn't have any tradition celebrating it (Why the heck would we celebrate Old Celtic New Year anyway? Obviously, with the horror-trend.. with "Scream", "Final Destination", "I know what you did last summer" etc etc etc.. The interest for that kind of stuff was bigger in general..

Now it seems tho, that people has became tired of it.. The sales of Halloween stuff has dropped with something like 50% in 1 - 2 years.. (That way, the businessmen has started looking if they're able to start selling in Thanksgiving instead.. Which we've not celebrated neither). But, in the end, I guess.. You can try to make the people do stuff, but if there's no heart behind it...

The ironic thing.. Halloween orginates in the Celtic Ireland, the last day of summer.. and in that sense, the end of the year.. let a new year start.. But, obviously.. Sweden is very old in that sense, and obviously we've got a lot of long forgotten traditions.. I mean.. once all the crops were in the barn, it was celebrations of that and a taste of what the summer had given.. I guess, not much different from Thanksgiving and Halloween etc.. in some senses.. People were a lot more the same before, in the sense that there were less varied lives.. Most people were farmers, lived out of what the earth gave etc.. But, instead of trying to sell that, the Swedish traditions, in, they try to import some other traditions. Pumpkins has never been a big thing in Sweden.. but.. turnips, and I don't know what, has been etc..

Swedes, in a sense, has always been a touch suspicious about everything commercial in a sense.. Conservative, maybe.. Maybe because Sweden never have been capitalistic in the sense it's in other countries. Yes, there's been businessmen etc, and back in centuries that has long passed it was a tradition class society with the nobles, farmers, Priests and Businessmen etc.. Then things took a drastic turn. We've not had any revolution as in France, in that sense etc. The closest, and I guess as a result of where the wind were blowing, we had major reforms in the 18th and 19th century when it came to farming etc. Not that they got their independence or was regarded as "people" (Some 100's of years ago, only Nobles were counted as people) etc.

Scandinavia has been progressive in that sense (now of course, a lot of Scandinavia was Swedish back then, at turns), which I think has to do a lot with the seasons etc. Since we've got so definitive seasons, with warm short summers, "long" strong winters, people had to live in a totally different way than in, say.. The British Isles, or down in the continental Europe (France etc.. ). The crops were limited in both variation and quantity, which of course put a lot of power in the hands of the farmers, in a sense. They were the motor that made Sweden run, basically, and with the harsh conditions, they had to be taken good care of. The farming had to be efficient, to get the most possible out of very limited resources. People had to, in a sense, gather together and help each other out. To take care of each other. 300 years ago, after all, we, except maybe for some of Russia, Sweden were the northern outpost of the "civilized" world. (I guess Scotland (Highlands) and Japan were the ones behind us, and look how independent Scotland is towards the rest of UK, in a sense. You had your Glens (Valleys) with Clans (Family), where you had a "father", who looked out for the rest of the Clan etc. Much the same could be said about Japanese feodal society, with Samurai's etc, which worked more or less the same way as it did in Scotland). The harsher the nature and climate, the more people are gonna gather, to fight against it, and the more equal it's gonna get. All people count.

That way, Sweden was in a sense, progressive in many ways, already, which made it possible, some 100 years ago, to make socialism take root. Not long after the big, industrial revolution, which led to people living less out of what they farmed, but of what they bought. We had farmers, and suddenly we had farmers and workers. But with the workers coming out of the progressive farming society and traditions (Sweden was very much a farming society until the 1950's), the capitalistic notion of selling and selling and sellig, never found any deep roots. It existed, Sweden has been a mixed economy, but obviously was looked on with suspicion. I guess, a Lutheran tradition also helped, where life is duty and not pleasure, which got in the soul of Swedes, that needed a lot of duty to survive the harsh conditions.

That way... We've been very strong with Traditions, in a sense. Not as much in celebrating it, as in celebrating it the "right" way. Nobody shall come and try to make us celebrate Christmas in a way that's "wrong". That way, we've been suspicious about everything commercial, trying to sell stuff that we "don't need". It work as long as they sell the real things. They might sell tons of candles, but they can't came here and sell me a turkey, because a turkey has never been on my table, and it never will. Sort of. If they start selling Christmas stuff in September, they know people are gonna turn against them, etc. Start to shy away from it, and whine about it.

Which I guess, is, in a sense, what's happened with Halloween in Sweden. It was, sure.. it looks fun, we can try that.. But then people "woke up" and thought it a bad thing.. the stores just trying to sell them stuff.. and getting irritated about that.. and I guess we're slowly returning back to "normal". Halloween-celebration reached a peak 2 years ago, I think, but already last year there were no geist in the stuff they were selling, and obviously most of it was left in the stores. It was hard selling, which I guess resulted in the stores not ordering anything at all, this year basically. You really would have a hard time finding Halloween stuff to buy, and I suspect, what there is, is stuff that got left over from last year..

Now.. lets bring in the advent stuff..

lets bring in the glitter.. the lights.. the red and the green and the gold..

The smell of candle wax, etheral girls in white, the green of spruces, gingerbread bisquits, marzipan, ham, Straw goats, churches with lights in them that plays nice melodies, chocolate and all the other Italian, German, British, Coca-cola and some Scandinavian stuff :-p