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Drunken holiday spooks Copenhagen

American internationals bring Halloween traditions to an unsuspecting country and its citizens

This Sunday marks the famed American holiday, Halloween. On this day, and throughout the weekend, Americans will be spreading the spooky joy of their famed festivities. Though the holiday is an innocent request for sweets from costumed youngsters, college students view Halloween in a different light.

»The streets are literally filled with people in a drunken mess,« says Jeni Centner, an American international student from Santa Barbara – a college town that is arguably one of the most renowned Halloween party spots. »Cops are everywhere on horses. Every five seconds people are making out on the streets.«

She says that the holiday is basically the same for all Americans, who usually dress up in costumes that are funny, scary or scandalous. However, college students just have a unique take on the traditions they grew up celebrating.

Pumpkin sales up

»Instead you go door to door for alcohol instead of candy. And instead of being sick from all the sugar, you just have a hangover for days,« she says.

Yet Danes aren’t so familiar with the Halloween traditions that have only recently become part of their culture. In the past five years, pumpkin sales have spiked, costume stores have opened and Danes are seeing more and more Halloween celebrations in Copenhagen.

»Before it got popular, it was kind of like Valentines Day, where people knew what it was but didn’t really care,« says Signe Palsøe, a former Danish student and Copenhagen party-goer. »Plus Danish people didn’t really appreciate taking in American traditions like that. But it has changed a lot lately especially with young people who like to have an excuse to have a party. For children it is an excuse to go get candy.«

First for many

Palsøe says that she hadn’t planned to celebrate, but if she gets invited to a party, she will probably go.

Danes aren’t the only newcomers to the Halloween celebrations. Australian international student Tanya Dahl never celebrated the holiday until her American roommates encouraged her to carve pumpkins with them.

She views her first real Halloween as a cultural experience, coincidentally celebrating a culture other than Danish in Denmark.

»I’ve never celebrated it before and it’s a good opportunity to celebrate it and get into the spirit,«Dahl says.

No buzz

As for Americans, celebrating Halloween in a country that typically doesn’t do so, may have damaging consequences.

»I feel like its going to be forgotten,« Centner says. »We basically celebrate for a week in California, and we plan our costumes a month in advance. Here, I feel like I could easily wake up on the first of November and realise I forgot to celebrate Halloween.«

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