Halloween is a world-renown celebration with a rich history dating back to the days of the Celts. Halloween is observed in many parts of the world, but is the festive event celebrated in Sweden?
Sweden celebrates Halloween, although in a less elaborate manner compared to other countries like the United States. Before the 1990s, Sweden didn’t recognize Halloween, especially since it wasn’t a major part of the Swedish culture. But since the turn of the century, Halloween has become increasingly popular in Sweden.
Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October, and is often associated with activities such as trick-or-treating, wearing costumes, telling scary stories, playing pranks, and even watching horror films.
This article will shed more light on Halloween celebrations in Sweden, including when it got started, how it connects to All Saints Day, and some of the common ways Swedes celebrate Halloween every year.
The Swedish people have interesting customs. See Do Swedes actually like Surstromming? to learn more.
Halloween in Sweden
Halloween in Sweden borrows a lot from the celebrations held in the U.S. While Halloween costumes and decorations in Sweden aren’t as elaborate as those in the U.S., there has been a steady increase in Halloween-related costumes over the years.
All Saints Day and Halloween in Sweden
The culture of honoring dead loved ones in Sweden became popular after World War I. Decades later, by the time World War II neared its conclusion, All Saints Day became even more important to Swedes as they viewed it as a way to appreciate and honor their fallen loved ones.
All Saints Day is likely to remain a more important celebration for Swedes than Halloween, especially due to its spiritual significance and relevance.
Cemeteries and serene locations are usually visited in large numbers, as Swedes look to pray for their fallen family and friends’ souls.
Teenagers and young adults are mostly responsible for Halloween’s ever-increasing popularity in Sweden.
While the celebrations aren’t as massive as those in the U.S., it isn’t unusual to spot scary costumes and horror-decorations in stores and café’s that appreciate the culture.
Horror-themed parties have also become popular in Sweden, especially for young adults looking to celebrate Halloween in a similar fashion to Americans.
Swedish homes have unique features. See Why Do Doors Open Outwards in Sweden? to learn more.
How Swedes celebrate Halloween
They get scary decorations
Although Sweden’s supermarkets don’t have aisles that are exclusively dedicated to Halloween, finding the right set of decorations shouldn’t be too hard.
Several stores have begun stocking Halloween-relevant decorations, which have played a part in popularizing Halloween celebrations in the country.
Some of the important decorations to be on the lookout for include candles, skeleton or black cat figurines, witch hats, and of course, color decorations.
And since Halloween is synonymous with orange, purple, and black colors, using such colors can help create the feeling of Halloween in shops, homes, and public areas.
They carve pumpkins
Halloween celebrations aren’t the same without carved pumpkins. Luckily, finding a large pumpkin in a nearby grocery store isn’t too hard in Sweden. Like elsewhere in the world, pumpkins are often carved into jack-o-lanterns.
Creating a jack-o-lantern using pumpkins isn’t at all complicated. The first step is cutting the top of the pumpkin such that it forms a lid.
Then they remove the pumpkin lid and scoop the inside flesh so that the pumpkin remains hollow. Afterward, the pumpkin is carved to resemble a scary or funny face.
The final step is placing a candle or an alternative light source inside the hollow pumpkin before placing the lid on top. To complete the Halloween theme, they place the carved pumpkin at the doorstep or somewhere it will be easily-visible.
They wear costumes
The importance of scary costumes in Halloween celebrations cannot be overstated. Like elsewhere in the world, some Swedes spend time and money putting together a costume. Children, and even sometimes family pets, participate in the fun.
Swedes have several scary costumes to choose from in preparation for the annual event. While some people prefer do-it-yourself costumes, more elaborate costumes can also be bought at stores.
They make, eat, and hand out candy
Although trick-a-treating isn’t as popular in Sweden as in the U.S., preparing candy is common in some households. Having lots of candy stocked up before Halloween ensures the candy-trading chain continues throughout their celebrations.
They watch Halloween movies
Movies have played a pivotal role in popularizing Halloween and its traditions across the world.
There are hundreds if not thousands of Halloween-themed movies to choose from.
These movies help to make Halloween celebrations more dramatic, especially when watched as a family or group.
They attend Halloween parties
Halloween is a unique celebration that promotes the spirit of sharing and interaction. Swedes who don’t like trick-or-treating may attend parties or other social gatherings within the neighborhood.
Attending Halloween parties is a brilliant opportunity to flaunt costumes and horror-themed accessories.
They prepare Halloween celebrations in advance
Similar to celebrations like Christmas and Easter, it is important for Swedes to plan for Halloween celebrations well in advance.
Early preparation means purchasing decorations and costumes before the Halloween fever fully kicks in.
As Halloween continues to become a popular non-official celebration in Sweden, more and more stores are stocking up Halloween decorations and accessories.
This makes it easy to customize homes, public areas, and even stores with a wide variety of horror or occult themes.
Traveling to Sweden? See Stockholm vs Gothenburg: Which Is Better for Nightlife? to learn more.
Brief History of Halloween
Halloween, also called Allhalloween, All Saints’ Eve, or All Hallow’s Eve, is an annual celebration that usually curtain raises the Western Christian feast called All Hallows’ Day. 
All Hallows’ Day or the Feast of All Saints Day is a Christian festival meant to celebrate all saints, both known and unknown. Most Halloween traditions are widely believed to have originated from the ancient Celtic festivals. 
People in the Middle Ages celebrated All Saints Day with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes. The celebrations were viewed as ways to honor and appreciate the souls of the dead.
Over the years, Halloween has gradually morphed into the ‘scary’ event that it is today, whereby people set up scary backgrounds and dress up in horror costumes.
Halloween was popularized in the U.S. by Irish immigrants in the 19th century.  The celebrations became mainstream in the U.S. in the 20th century, with most people integrating the horror-themed backdrops and costumes to celebrate the festival.
Although Halloween might appear as if it is an American festival alone, the celebration stemmed from the pagan festival of Samhain (festival of harvest) and the All Saints celebrations. 
Popular Swedish Holidays
Formerly called Swedish Flag Day, National Day is an annual patriotic holiday celebrated on the 6th of June. 
The midsummer day is centered on the summer solstice and is celebrated during the weekend between 20th and 26th June.
Many young Swedes enjoy Halloween
Although not among Sweden’s most popular holidays, Halloween is gradually developing into an important celebration.
Halloween celebrations are especially popular among children, teenagers, and young adults.
Granted, Halloween celebrations in Sweden can’t compare to the religiously celebrated Halloween festivals in countries like the US.
However, Halloween-fever is slowly catching up with Swedes, with celebrations becoming more significant as the years pass.
- History: History of Halloween
- History: Samhain
- Public Holidays: All Saints Day
- Sweden: National Day
- Public Holidays: Halloween
- Sweden: Traditions Halloween
- Her Campus: How To Prepare For Halloween 5 Easy Steps
- Business Insider: History Of Halloween
- Public Holidays: May Day