Witch Quiz Night at the student bar Uglebo was definitely a fun way to start off the spooky season.

Must be the season of the witch

International students are most likely studying their options to celebrate this year’s Halloween, but I have to wonder, what were they up to before arriving in Oslo?

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October is the month of sweater weather, maple lattes, and autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place (*queue “All Too Well,” 10-minute version, Taylor’s Version*). However, it is also time for pumpkin carving, scaring your friends with haunted house stories, rewatching classics like The Shining if you’re strong enough, or simply revisiting the Halloweentown saga wearing your favorite wool sweater, that is, if you are anything like me.

As a kid, I remember my grandmother ranting about how the “yankees” were taking over our sacred traditions. In her eyes, the 31st of October was a day to prepare our house with scented candles and flowers surrounding the picture frames holding our loved ones who had passed. The next morning, we would take a trip to the cemetery and visit my great-grandparents. I recall my grandmother, being the small woman that she is, always asking for help to place the flowers in our family grave, located at the top of the wall. In Spain, it is less common to bury the dead six feet under. When we were done, we would go back home and enjoy a very autumnal meal consisting of slowly cooked yams from the day before, salted fish and fried chestnuts. 

As my teenage years arrived, the Halloween scene in Mean Girls became less and less fictitious. By eighteen, I was attending university Halloween parties and figuring out which costume would be more appealing without ending the night with pneumonia. Although climate change has taken a big part in solving that issue, slowly but surely.

In the midst of sipping a pumpkin spice latte, I began to wonder how the rest of international students used to celebrate the spookiest time of the year. I had the opportunity to talk to a few of them who told me different stories and gave some insight on how other cultures enjoy or reject, as Lana Del Rey would put it, the season of the witch.

One of my classmates at UiO, Josefine Selzer, explained briefly how people in Norway celebrate Halloween. “There are a lot of Halloween parties in bars and clubs, and young people usually attend those,” she explained. In addition, she said it was custom to dress up in costumes and just have a good time. “There are little to no religious or mystical ties to the celebration, it’s all very American,” Josefine asserted. 

On the other hand, Oswindra Hermanu, from Indonesia, explained the sinful connotation that Halloween represents to the Muslim communities in Asia and Oceania. “Christian communities don’t really celebrate Halloween, however, Muslim families consider the veneration of other entities that are not God essentially a sin, and this includes the celebration of the dead,” Oswindra argued. However, now in Norway, he might try to check what the kids are up to and maybe attend a Halloween party around the student area. 

I also got to talk to Bayan, from Kazakhstan, who explained that growing up watching Hollywood movies, she was obviously fascinated by Western and American holidays, Halloween in particular. “I remember trying to celebrate Halloween with my friends back in school a few times, we would try reenacting what we saw in those movies. Without really going into details and understanding the background of the holiday, we would dress up, put up scary makeup, and try to go trick or treating,” she told me during the break of one of our classes. 

However, her country had just gained independence from the Soviet Union at the time and everything coming from the West was sort of seen as a threat, Bayan argued. “There are still a lot of people who feel threatened by the celebration despite the rise of its popularity.” 

I asked her if she would join the Halloween celebrations in Oslo, and she replied: “I don’t know if parties are for me, but I sure wouldn’t mind carving a few pumpkins and checking out Halloween candy.”

There is no doubt about the options available to celebrate the season of pumpkin carving and scary movies in the city of Oslo. I will now hit its second-hand stores and perfect my bat wing eyeliner technique, that is, if I want to have a winning chance at the numerous costume contests. As for you guys, hope you have a fun spooky weekend in Oslo!

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