Friday, 31 October 2014

WEP-Challenge for 31st October 2014 - Ghost Story

Welcome to WEP's Challenge for 29th-31st October, Ghost Story.

For some reason, October's spooky challenge is usually the high point of our writing year. Halloween is the one night of the year when ghost stories are expected - within the English-speaking world.  Here in Sweden, Halloween is a newly introduced way of celebrating a holiday that used to only consist of lighting candles on graves.


I tried writing a ghost story, but my heart was just not in it. What I am offering are some photos documenting my daughter, Elisabet, and her schoolmate, Maria, together with my son, Erik, dressing up and going around our neighbourhood 'trick-or-treating'.

Elisabet and Matilda, the cat, before Halloween make-up.

When Elisabet told me that they were going to do this alone, without an accompanying adult, I said no. They are only ten years old and these are apartment buildings, in the middle of city, not a suburban development or farms, where everyone knows everyone.

For two days, I helped Elisabet draw pumpkins, print them out and hand-colour them to make 'Happy Halloween' - cards. (One of the reasons why my ghost-story never was finished. Oh well. Probably no great loss.)

Notice the black nail polish om Elisabet's fingers. I applied it.


We went to the toy store to buy a new Halloween costume, black garb including a witch's hat with attached green-coloured wig.

Maria and Elisabet apply make-up for their scarey roles.


Erik as the Grim Reaper!

Maria in the middle has chosen to be a vampire.

Halloween make up inspired by the green-faced wicked witch of the west from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Many of you may remember this film. I do. This is Margaret Hamilton, who played the double role of Miss Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West. (I'm looking for a photo of Margaret Hamilton with green face makeup, but can't find any.)
Click on image to get to Wikipedia

Maria threatens to drink my blood. Elisabet casts a spell.
Click on image to get to Amazon UK

They are off, and the weather has been unusually mild.

My trio marching towards their first victims.

Surprisingly, they were given quite a lot of candy! I expected them to come home empty-handed, as this is too new of a practice. It is not a Swedish tradition, and I have mixed feelings about its introduction. But since I took a course in ethology in my youth, I understand that there is always a reason for why people start celebrating holidays.  My immediate guess is that this is a tradition that appeals to the 'tweens', or 'pre-teens', eight to twelve year-olds, just my children's age right now. 

There is a Swedish begger-tradition, with the children dressing up as Easter-witches with broomsticks and copper-kettles, and go around giving neighbours handmade cards with 'Glad Påsk!' (Happy Easter!) on them. But this is a tradition for small children, and mother usually tags along, at a distance if nothing else.

My guess is that Halloween appeals to pre-teen children because it is a first step toward independence. And there is so much from the outside world (read= English-speaking world) that supports the mythology of ghosts, witches and vampires, that are the stock characters for this holiday. And it feels a little dangerous for a ten-year-old to dress up like a banshee and actually knock on neighbours' doors.

I compromised. I let the girls do this if they let Erik go with them.  

Erik claims that celebrating Halloween comes from Germany. I'll have to check on that. The Christmas tree came from Germany with Martin Luther. Or so my mother told me once when I was a child. I'll have to check on that too.

When  dividing up the spoils of the afternoon (they came home before dark), they put everything that they did not like in a pile -  liquorice, tough so-called chewy sticks, sour drops and bad chocolate - and gave it to me. Thank you sweetums!

Dividing the spoils

Word count according to WordCalc: Not Applicable.


Best wishes,

First Commenter:

Rainforest Writing



D.G. Hudson said...

Variety in our WEP offerings is what makes it a fun challenge Anna! I enjoyed seeing your kids and their friend as I used to love helping our daughters with their costume choices and makeup.

I do remember the Wicked Witch and her cackle from the Wizard of Oz. I quite liked her striped socks. . .Interesting also that your country is now integrating Halloween trick or treating for October 31.

N. R. Williams said...

They're cute. We always go with the kids and we live in the suburbs. So no issues with me on that account. Growing up, the Wizard of Oz was on T.V. every year. Quite remarkable when I actually saw it in color the first time. I can relate to Van Braun, the author. He failed at everything he attempted in life. Couldn't find a publisher, self published and the rest is history. I feel as if I have failed too.

Sally said...

It is a tradition that is becoming very commercialised now, I always thought it came from the USA. I agree that youngsters like dressing up and your children and their friend certainly seemed to have had a great time. Adults or older children should always be with the younger ones for safety reasons. I loved seeing your pictures, a great post.

Scheherazade said...

That was an interesting take on Halloween. Thank you for sharing that. What I remember about Halloween as a child (besides the opportunity to collect all the candy) was the ability to transform yourself into something you wanted to be---and I wanted to be a gypsy. My mother took the satin lining out of an old winter coat and made me a beautiful skirt and bodice decorated with multi-colored ribbons. And I had a white satin blouse and big dangly earrings.

Denise Covey said...

I love your entry Anna. As D.G. says, variety is always good. It is lovely to see your children enjoying Halloween. The photos and the link to the Wizard of Oz was great. Australia really doesn't celebrate Halloween. You see a few zombies in the street but that's about all.

I hope life is treating you well.

Thanks for participating. You probably won't get that many comments as most think the challenge is over.

Denise :)

Yolanda Renée said...

Oh Anna, thank you - this was lovely! I miss the childhood aspect of the holiday. My sons are too old to trick or treat now, but when they were younger - what fun! It's always been my favorite holiday, but as I get older, I'm less and less involved, except for the writing of a spooky tale or two. This year I didn't even do that, which makes me sad, but seeing your children's lovely adventure really made me happy! Thank you for sharing - and NO! No story you've ever written was a waste of effort! Happy belated Halloween!

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