It’s no trick, there’s no treat

When I moved to Norway with my three young children back in 1989 our lives took a drastic turn.

There were few expats and no international school in our area. If we ever expected to fit in, we had no choice but to learn a new language. There were no more Sunday dinners at grandma’s house, because she now lived thousands of miles away. We soon found ourselves saying goodbye to things we never imagined living without..

There would be no more picnics or fireworks on the Forth of July. No more Valentine’s Day-mailbox in the children’s classroom. No wearing green on St. Patricks Day and no turkey on Thanksgiving. Of course I could always make a turkey dinner on the last Thursday of November but with the kids in school, my husband at work and no parade on TV, it wasn’t the same.

There were no more presents on Christmas Day, because the packages were all given out and opened on Christmas Eve. No more Easter Bunny. It was now the Easter Chicken leaving Easter candy for the children in large paper-mache eggs, and then everyone goes skiing for the day. Mother’s Day was now in March and Father’s day in November.

My children took it all in stride, until they found out there was NO Halloween!

“Fear not,” I explained. “Instead of Halloween there is a tradition here called Lossi. On December 12th all the children dress in costume, go door to door singing Christmas songs and receive treats from their neighbors.”

By the time December 12th rolled around it was dark and freezing in Norway. This meant covering up their costumes with layers of sweaters and jackets, and carrying flashlights. I can still remember my kids that first Lossi, all excited and carrying plastic pumpkins they’d brought over from America to collect their loot in. They didn’t even let their disappointment show when they came home to find their pumpkins stuffed with nothing but tangerines.

That was over twenty years ago. There’s still no Halloween in our town, but they have started to sell real pumpkins and more people are giving out candy instead of tangerines for Lossi now. I guess thats progress.

Halloween is unfortunately not the only thing approaching my home-state of New Jersey this year. Prayers go out to all my friends and family as they brace themselves for the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.

About maggiemyklebust

I grew up on the Jersey Shore and now live in Norway. I have also lived in Houston and the Netherlands. I have written a memoir called Fly Away Home.

Posted on October 29, 2012, in all things American, all things Norsk and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. You should throw a Halloween party anyway and let them come and share in your celebrations, Halloween is slowly starting to get bigger here in the UK although we have always gone trick or treating it is only in the last couple of years that people have really started getting into decorating their houses and having parties.

    • We have thrown Halloween parties and thats nice, but I think its the actual ‘trick or treating’ my kids missed. But you’re right, American holidays are creeping in more and more over here too

  2. Halloween was a big deal in our house too. Luckily in Moscow there were parties we could go to. Must have been a big adjustment for tie children! We are at home today waiting for Sandy to come a-calling!! I hope it isn’t as bad as they think!

  3. Living in a different country is hard enough without having to learn a new language as well.. There are lots of opportunities to dress up and EAT in America than we do not have in my home country of NZ. Even after five years i find them hard to keep up with. I am sure you created lots of traditions within your family that made up for it a little.. c

  4. Hi Maggie. I happen to live in a gaited community, and all of the condo owners are 55 and older. Obviously we won’t be getting any trick or treaters dropping by. However, I consider that to be a disadvantage and not an advantage of the tight security here. I miss the young trick or treaters comming to my door on halloween night. I used to go to my mom’s house sometimes on halloween just to give out treats and be a part of the crazziness.

  5. Dear Maggie, I would miss Halloween. It’s not too late to throw a costume party and invite folks in to share the day, with candy apples, homemade popcorn balls, and carved jack o’ lanterns. If there are no pumpkins, any kind of squash, turnip, or potato would work.

    I too am sending my thoughts and wishes for a safety in the storm to the folks back east.

    • You wouldn’t believe how happy the kids and I were one Halloween when we found some small gourds to buy. My kids are all grown now and they’ve started to sell real pumpkins here (talk about a day late and a dollar short) Oh well…
      Thanks for all your well wishes for the good folks back home.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with them all too and hope that Hurricane Sandy will pass by very quickly without too much devastation. It’s never easy for kids getting used to new customs in a new land but no doubt, they’ll be making up for it now with their kids

  7. We don’t really celebrate Halloween in Australia as much as the US – but it is slowly becoming more popular.

    It must have been really difficult for you in those first few years – it’s so hard to leave extended family behind (particularly such a long distance!)

    I was just reading a post from another blogger (Maddie) that was about other bloggers getting into your head – I commented that I’ve really been feeling for those people facing Sandy this week and had I not started blogging I would never have really noticed what was going on in the US – but now I’m worrying about my fellow bloggers and their families. I really hope your family and friends in that part of the world stay safe…

  8. Maggie, I’m so inspired and in awe that you uprooted and moved to a new country for a new life. I think it would be hard to not have the holidays I’m accustomed to, but exciting to learn new ones, too. A friend of mine moved from Ohio to Texas, and the first year they were there, they couldn’t figure out Halloween. She said they wanted to take their daughter around for trick-or-treating, but everyone was just having cookouts in their back yards and eating their own candy. I don’t know how they are faring this year. … I’ve had the Sandy news on all evening. I pray people have taken all of the precautions necessary. I can’t believe how fast the rain and winds have pushed into Ohio – we have wind gusts tonight, but nothing for us to worry about.

    • Did you get snow?
      My daughter lives in Huntington, West Virginia and they got snow!
      Poor New Jersey is devastated but my family is safe and thats what matters.

      • My brother has snow in Columbus, but we only had wind gusts and rain overnight. Thankfully, no more tree limbs came down. Some transformers in the area blew, but we weren’t affected. Glad to hear your family is safe.

  9. I think holidays are when I feel homesick the most, just because it’s so obvious that nothing is the same. I have been craving candy corn like nobody’s business today and of course I can’t get it anywhere!

    As for Thanksgiving, I asked G if he’d take the day off work and make me a roast turkey and he said he’d be happy to, but didn’t think his boss would understand. So maybe we’ll just do it the following Saturday instead.

    • You had to mention candy corn, now I’ll be thinking about that all day 🙂
      I’ve tried having ‘Thanksgiving’ here but with no one else celebrating, it seemed lonely.
      Happy Halloween

  10. I cannot imagine the many adjustments all of you have had to make and am so proud of you you for doing it! What troopers your children have been! As many above have said, you can always try to bring “home” home. But I must say I do enjoy learning more from you about the culture there! Prayers for your family and friends ~

  11. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving out Halloween candy to the kids in the neighborhood but I miss dressing up like when I was working (see my post). This morning I had to drop off a sample at the lab for my DH (he’s trying to pass a kidney stone) and I’ve been so “down” with all the misery here and back East I wanted to eat something special but didn’t know what – until I passed the donut shop!! I turned around and bought a dozen (I froze most of them). When I was in there a guy came in and I glanced at him – his face looked like he’d been in a terrible accident. The he turned his whole face toward me and it was Horrible!! He was already made up for a Halloween party and what a job someone did making him up 😀
    Hope those migraines stay gone for a while!

    • Isn’t it funny how sugar always makes us feel better. I was sitting here late last night following the storm back home in New Jersey and eating a bag of fun size Snickers bars. Thanks for cheering me up and I hope that kidney stone soon passes. I had one last year – ouch!

  12. Oh Dear – that means there was no Great Pumpkin!!! Excellent post…I admired the way you were able to create new traditions, in the midst of unfamiliar territory. It is a testament to the power of the family connection. You made my day…

  13. I think the world is becoming more global, via the internet, travel & expats like yourself. We adopt each other’s cuisine and traditions, and by doing so we make the world a brighter more interesting place 🙂

  14. Still catching up on my posts, Maggie… so slowly! LOVE this. You’re a great story teller! Your children must be very open minded to accept these changes with such good grace. I don’t think I’d do such a good job, even now… 😉

  15. Don’t feel bad, I’m falling further and further behind also.
    You know I didn’t think about it at the time, but my kids were really GOOD SPORTS (about everything) back then!

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