Experiencing Halloween for the first time

Andrea Lefevre

Why is Halloween not a thing in Denmark, or just in Europe in general?  We have our own version of Halloween which is called “Allehelgens” but the only activity we do is carving pumpkins. Denmark is starting to get more into the whole “American Halloween” concept. In 5 years or so, it will probably be a big thing in Denmark too, since we are one of the most Americanized countries in the world.

But I wonder, how come America has such a huge influence on other countries around the world? Surely, I understand it is a large country and by that it automatically has lots of power. Whenever there is a crisis in the world, America is there to make a statement or prepare for action – sometimes politically and sometimes by using physical force through the military. So no doubt America receives a lot of respect for their power – and maybe we look a bit up to this great country? I wonder if that is the reason why we tend to adapt American holidays. We also know a lot of the American culture by watching movies where people celebrate 4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Because of the movies, those traditions seem familiar to us even though we do not celebrate them, at least not on the same level, as Americans. Maybe it is difficult to understand as an American, just how influential their country is. For foreigners like myself, it is very obvious how American traditions influence our own.

Halloween. One of the biggest traditions in America. As a foreigner wrapped up in the spell called Hollywood, I have seen plenty of movies regarding American traditions such as Halloween. To be fair, I have always thought that the film industry made it to be a bigger thing than it is, as it does with so many other things. Or maybe it is just because I compare it with a tradition we have in Denmark called Fastelavn. The “dress-up” concept is pretty much the same as people do on Halloween along with going trick or treating. Only the children do not say “trick or treat” but have a song they sing when they knock on peoples front door. Often the children get money over candy – which I kind of dislike. It seems so materialistic compared to Halloween. Mostly, the two traditions have a lot of the same guidelines. Except now having experienced a real American Halloween, I can tell it is a lot different and actually surprisingly accurate to the films I have seen with a Halloween theme.

A movie that pops into my head is Mean Girls.  It is not a movie people would first associate with Halloween. I spent my Halloween going to a party where I was told beforehand that it was sort of expected of the girls to dress up a bit inappropriate… I was glad I was “warned” even though I think I managed to dress very neutral as a basketball player. Otherwise, I could very well have been Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls going to a Halloween party dressed as a wicked zombie bride which came as a complete shock to the rest of the participants at the party, who were all dressed up in very little clothes…

Another very important tradition I learned from watching movies about Halloween is when the kids go trick or treating. I found it so cute when children came to our house and you could just tell their excitement when they would yell “trick or treat!” They really put effort into their costumes. It was nice to see how it is also a family tradition. The parents would dress up as well and go trick and treating with their children. I think that is really nice.

As written before, I really like the American traditions, and I really think that celebrating Halloween in Denmark would be a success, since most people already know a lot about through Hollywood. Thanksgiving is another warm and very social tradition. I believe that Thanksgiving also will be adapted by European countries sooner or later, because it is such a popular tradition here. When I return to Denmark, I will miss the American culture. Luckily, I still have many months left of my year and experiencing the American way to do life, and I am sure I will introduce my family and friends back home to the different cultures and traditions.