We don't celebrate Halloween here in Norway. You can say we celebrate All Hallow's Eve, if by 'celebrate' you mean 'lighting a candle in the
cemetery and go to church', but there is no turkey-and-candy orgy afterwards. No, wait, the turkey is Thanksgiving, isn't it? That's another holiday we don't have, since we never gave all the Indians smallpox and killed them and ate their corn like fucking disease carrying corn-eating barbarians. Whoops, pardon my language. It's 'Native Americans'.
Things are changing, though. I used to work in a kindergarten, and all the kids were pretty puzzled whenever a Halloween episode of their favourite cartoon was aired. When I explained that most of the cartoons on TV are from the US (well, Korea, if you want to get technical) and that Americans devote an entire day to collecting free candy and then eating it in monster costumes, the light in their eyes could have guided the Flying Dutchman to harbor. When a holiday mainly revolves around candy and monster costumes, you can only hold it at bay for so long. The problem is, it's not that simple to import a holiday like Halloween. It is however not impossible.
Problem #1: There aren't any big pumpkins in Norway
Spookily carved pumpkins seem to be vital to a successful Halloween celebration, and there just aren't any pumpkins bigger than a small cabbage here. In fact, the only really big fruit or vegetable big enough for the cause I can remember seeing in stores around here are water melons. I don't know about the water melon seasons in the US, but I know that they're only available in the summer up in witch tit country, so we're going to have to find an alternate route. So, when 'big' is out of the question, what's left? Spooky. Spooky food we have.
We've got a lot of shoreline, and if it wasn't for the fish and oil that comes with the territory, we'd be classified as a developing country. In fact, we damn near were before we found the oil. Wasn't our fault, though. Damn Germans. Anyway, lots of fish. In fact, if you're in Japan and dine on fine Japanese sushi, chances are you're eating Norwegian sushi. Still, while we have fish coming out of our ears and could eat it fresh for every meal, we still insist on preserving the damn things using the oldest techniques available.
Not pictured: partial decomposition
Rakørret ('half-fermented trout') can cause the deadly illness botulism.
Gravlaks ('grave salmon') is just what it sounds like: salmon stored in the dirt for months.
Lutefisk ('lye fish') is also, I regret to say, exactly what it sounds like: fish stored in lethal lye until its consistency resembles that of jellyfish. It has been said that the first man to eat lutefisk was the bravest guy that ever walked the earth. I'm saying he walked the earth way beyond 'brave' and far into 'stupid' territory.
Myrmelk ('mire milk') is milk stored in the middle of a damned swamp for, I'm serious, several years. You have to be careful when you dig it up, or it will explode in your face. I'm happy to report that this is a dying tradition.
The loom of my fruit
I forget whether the jack-o'-lanterns are supposed to light the way for the dead or scare away demons, but I'm pretty sure a platter of scary fish could serve the same purpose. I'm not sure if I'm all for this food and open flame, but a lot of our food is radioactive anyway after that Russian nuclear mishap, so the 'glowing' part of the equation shouldn't be a problem.
- Dead cats
- Evil smell all over country until New Year's
Problem #2: Nobody is going to buy a lot of candy
This is the so-called 'videophone paradox'. You can't possible harvest the benefits of having a videophone when nobody else has one, and you don't want to be the idiot who paid lots of money for useless technology that can't be practically folded together and stored in a closet after you don't grow Chuck Norris muscles in ONLY THIRTY DAYS OR YOUR MONEY BACK! Plus, camwhores have conquered the only niche videophones could possibly prosper in: the sleaze market. The fact that camwhores can't watch you is also a benefit. Insert 'in Soviet Russia' joke here. My point is: kids won't ask for candy when nobody has any candy, and nobody's going to buy candy when no kids are going to show up begging for it.
Candy is kinda expensive in Norway, but there is one place we always go nuts and buy so much Toblerone and M'n'Ms that we can't eat it all before it goes bad: the tax free store. A new problem arises in the midst of the solution: tax free stores are only found in international airports and on the ferry to Denmark. The solution is to establish a rogue state about a
declare in size in the middle of every city. The detachment process and the following shenanigans will cause a journalist crusade, and what will every eye in the nation see first when the news roll across television screens? The sparkling tax free stores located around the borders of every rogue state.
Suddenly, every home in the entire country will be so stacked with candy that people will be happy to give it away so they can fit actual food in their cupboards again.
- Difficult to organize
- Must raise capital to acquire lots of candy, alcohol and cigarettes
- George Bush will think we are terrorists and kill us all
- It's a bad plan, and it didn't turn out half as funny as I had hoped it would
Problem #3: The Buffy season finale aired a few days ago
You may be wondering what the hell kind of relevance this has to Halloween. This is the deal: there is no logic or thought behind Norwegian program planning. Well, there is a certain pattern in the chaos, but this does not apply to imported shows. Hence, Christmas episodes are scattered throughout the year. The result: the Tanner family will appear to get stuck in an airport due to blizzards in the middle of August and then realize that Christmas is all about those you love and everybody is happy again, even the disgruntled truck driver who is stuck with them. Or Will Smith and the Bankses are stuck in a courtroom and realize that Christmas is all about those you love and everybody is happy again and find the spirit of Christmas in May. The whole 'get stuck somewhere shitty on Christmas eve' thing is another tradition we don't have in Norway, by the way.
What I'm trying to establish, is the fact that while we get all your holiday episodes they never really coincide with the actual holidays. Buffy is the only show on air that's even remotely Halloweeny, and now it's gone and won't return for six months. Well, we've got Goosebumps, but some genius decided it was a good idea to air a horror show for ten-year-olds at three in the morning. Halloween without Halloween programming is a poor man's Halloween. Halloween.
Spooky drawings glued to the television set will alter the mood of all shows aired on the day in question.
With Hallovision, all your favourite shows will appear to have a Halloween flavor.
- Watching Ricki in this mode could kill you
Problem #4: Old people aren't prepared
Old people don't know the first thing about Halloween, and are in no way prepared to answer the door and be greeted by little demons and monsters. In fact, old people could think demons are coming to collect them. This could cause heart attacks and deaths.
In a transitional period, children will have to dress up as senior television favourites Mark Sloane and Ben Matlock.
This will help the elderly to gently adapt to the new festivities, and better yet: no old lady is going to turn down Ben Matlock when he comes asking for candy. This solution also helps us evade problem #5: There are no costumes in Norway except 'knight' and 'knock-off Harry Potter'.
- Costumes will have to be hand-made
- Children will hate this
- Senile people may try to involve children in crazy forensic mysteries
- Senile people may attempt to have sex with Matlock
Now that I try to imagine what my version of the holiday will look like, it strikes me that it comes across more like an 'Matlock and old food party day' than the Halloween I've seen on television. We may be able to tweak the specifics later and turn it into something more closely resembling the real thing, but I half want to keep it like it is. Hey, it could become a whole new tradition. We've got a win-win on our hands, people.
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