Icelanders have been celebrating Halloween increasingly in recent years, and since no Halloween is complete without a carved pumpkin, grocery stores are starting to see pumpkins sell out during the season.
The supermarkets Krónan, Hagkaup and Fjarðarkaup have all sold out of pumpkins in the last week. Guðmundur Marteinsson, CEO of supermarket chain Bónus, told RÚV sales are increasing from year to year.
“We had large pumpkins for sale, and they’re very popular,” said Marteinsson. “It all flew off the shelves last weekend.”
The pumpkin inventory is the greatest in the Nettó stores, said Sævar Ólafsson, purchasing manager for supermarket conglomerate Samkaup. “We’ve doubled the sales from last year. We now offer pumpkins in most stores, and we’re getting more in today and tomorrow.”
More and more people have been participating in the spirit of Halloween in recent years, with children and adults alike donning scary costumes, and some neighbourhoods seeing kids adopt the custom of door to door trick-or-treating.
Icelanders have long observed a day similar to Halloween, named Öskudagur (“Ash Wednesday” or simply “Ash Day”), where children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door for candy. While the general concept is the same, there are some principal differences.
For one thing, Öskudagur is not horror-themed like Halloween is, meaning costumes can take any form across the spectrum. For another, children don’t customarily visit private residences but make stops at stores, restaurants and other workplaces. Additionally, asking for the candy is not enough: the kids have to earn it by singing a song.
Regardless of Ash Wednesday’s enduring appeal and deep roots in Icelandic tradition, it looks like Halloween isn’t going anywhere soon. That’s okay, though—there’s room for both. After all, any excuse to play dress-up isn’t going to go amiss in the land of elves, trolls, giants and yule lads.