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This is Danish Halloween

Halloween is slowly but surely becoming a Danish tradition. So fear not, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate this scary feast the Danish way 31 October

»Slik eller Ballade?« will replace the usual »Trick or treat« as you celebrate Halloween in Copenhagen. For yes, even though this is Denmark, Halloween is very much celebrated. This newly forming tradition is popular with kids and shops but unpopular with most adults. However, if we look back in history, Halloween might be more European than American.

Halloween originated as a pagan tradition from Ireland then called Samhain. When Ireland became Catholic, the feast was named All Hallows Eve – later shortened to Halloween. Scary faces were cut in beets and put outside to scare away the winter demons. As the Irish immigrated to America beets were replaced by pumpkins, as these grew in abundance.

The modern Halloween came to Denmark some years ago when Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet in 1998 began to arrange Halloween events. It wasn’t long before children’s toy store Fætter BR and theme-park Tivoli followed suit.

Allehelgens what?

The modern Halloween might sound commercial to some. Of the older generation many Danes complain that this is just one more Americanization of Denmark. However, the feast was celebrated from 610 until 1770, when it was cancelled by the Danish Protestant Church.

Back then, the night was named as the translation of All Hallows Eve: Allehelgens aften – the night before Allehelgens dag. For Danish Protestants it was a day to remember and pray for the deceased Christians. The protestant church dates this day for the first Sunday in November.

Taste a ghost today

31 October, and the modern Halloween is celebrated much like in USA. Over the last ten years the Danish pumpkin production has had a tenfold increase. So you will probably see a lot of houses with carved pumpkins waiting for the dressed up children to come round trick-or-treating.

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