Immigrating to Denmark and Halloween in the US
Updated: Jun 16
It takes all sorts of holiday-loving people to make this world go-round. You have your typical Christmas lovers: the Hallmark-movie-watching, ugly-sweater-wearing, gingerbread-house-building kind of people. They're out there in this country in great abundance and in overwhelming numbers-- at least that's what studies show. Then, you have the the type of people who swear by Thanksgiving- the people who are just itching to put themselves into a tryptophan-induced coma and eat WAY more mashed potatoes than one should ever deem digestible. Finally (please ignore that I skipped basically all other calendar-holidays; sorry Groundhog's Day) you have the best type of people; the ones who love Halloween. Hint- that's me. See below photo for proof.
To me, Halloween is just one big giant fashion show- and I LOVE fashion. People of all ages, genders, races, and walks-of-life can enjoy this fabulous holiday- and do so at their own level of commitment. Some may merely put on a witch's hat and call it a day. Others may go Walmart (the real scare of the season) and buy an off-the-rack polyester costume to never use again. Then finally, you have the gold medalists of the holiday- the true enthusiasts- the the type who plan their costumes months in advance but *somehow* always finish at the last minute. I know of one who lives in my neighborhood.
Bottom line- Halloween creates a welcoming environment for ALL people to get creative, put together a delightful ensemble, and strut about their new "identity" at the largest fashion show of the year: literally *anywhere* celebrating Halloween.
This year, I've had the great pleasure of teaching dance at Marcelle's School of Dance in Bend, Oregon during my few months back in the US. This past week, students were encouraged to wear their costumes to dance, which was honestly the best thing I've ever experienced in my life- and I've been to dog parks. By far, the best costumes I saw this past week were:
1. Evil Avocado (worn by a 3-year-old)
2. Skunk (Also worn by a 3-year-old)
3. Unicorn (Worn by a 4-year-old. See costume photo below- except picture a shorter, rounder-faced child with a perpetually-perplexed expression)
Knowing the dancers were going to show up dressed to the nines during Hallo-week, I knew I had to go all-out (not like I really needed much convincing). And okay, okay. The first four of these costumes were all old dance costumes and accessories my mom has so graciously stored for me while being abroad (thanks, mom). BUT- the last one I made 100% myself and my mom says it's "nice"- so you know it's worth a look.
Without further ado, I present to you my Halloween Costumes of 2019!
"Do you want to build a snowman?"
^^^ Literally, the BEST lyrics of 2013. Sorry, "Wrecking Ball".
Fun fact for you: there were a *minimum* of 7 Elsas in the studio at any given time this week. I very happily contributed to that statistic.
Kay, so I wore this costume during my second year of competing at Miss Oregon when I danced to Tina Turner's "Proud Mary". It's sassy! It's fun! It reminds me of "Dancing with the Stars" and is the most itchy- I mean sparkly- thing you will ever experience! This costume also gave me the opportunity to wear those neck-long evening gown earrings again, because in no way-shape-or form are those socially acceptable for any self-respecting 25-year-old in Denmark to wear- UNLESS for Halloween, of course. So, there you go. Barbie.
3. THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY
My thoughts behind this costume were simple:
1. I had this costume.
2. I had this mask.
3. I teach ballet
4. . . .
4. AUDREY HEPBURN
"Who are you?"
" I'm Audrey Hepburn! She was a famous actress, fashion icon, and most importantly- a humanitarian!"
". . . Oh. ( Blank stare). I'm Elsa!"
^^^ Conversation I had maybe 14 times on Wednesday. Which is probably the exact number of times I have been Audrey Hepburn for Halloween.. 😂
5. MONARCH BUTTERFLY
This is my official "Costume of the Year" for 2019.
Each year, I try to create a unique and high-quality design from scratch. Usually, it takes countless hours, frequent trips to Joanne's Fabrics, and many phone conversations with my Grandma Myrna. A little history for you: My Grandma Myrna is very skilled at sewing and working with patterns. For many years, she tried to teach me how to make my own costumes for Halloween, and we always bonded over the process. To this day, we still discuss Halloween designs, and though mine are *never* sewn with a machine or done with the help of a pattern, I always love sharing the end result with her.
This year's costume comes with a message:
Migration is Beautiful.
Here is a story to go with this costume:
When I was in elementary school in Minnesota, we studied Monarch Butterflies in science class. This may or may not have been in part because MN had recently declared the Monarch Butterfly "The State Butterfly" because that's apparently a thing. I also think we have a state beverage: Milk. Anyway, during that time, we learned tons of cool facts about the insects. For example:
North American Monarch butterflies are the only butterfly that migrates south to Mexico for the winter (in my Minnesotan eyes, that also makes them the smartest butterflies). In addition to their winter migration, they also fly north to the US and Canada for the summer.
During this 3,000 mile migration, butterflies fly as many as 100 miles a day.
Although only one generation of monarch butterflies travel south, research shows that it takes as many as 5 generations to make it to make it back to their northern destinations.
Although these butterflies have never completed the migration before, they somehow know exactly where to go and follow the paths their ancestors took. Sometimes, they even stay at the same trees!
Monarch butterflies only travel during the daytime and spend their evenings "roosting." What this basically means is a cluster of butterflies resting together. Sometimes, clusters contain thousands of resting butterflies!
These points are brought to you by the National Geographic- the magazine with the shortest slogan: Further. Get yourself a copy- today!
*** Note: If you want to learn more about Monarch butterflies, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the US Department of Agriculture's website. Here, you'll learn all you need to know on the topic, and they even developed these great visuals, too. See below:
In addition to learning all of these neat facts about Monarch Butterflies, we also had the unique opportunity to raise our own as well. When some Deephaven Elementary classes got classroom mice (i.e my sister's) my class got caterpillars. During whatever grade I was in at the time, we were able to watch the caterpillars live their best lives- in all stages of their life cycles. Once they broke free from their chrysalises, we knew they were finally able to say, "I'm a beautiful butterfly!!" A Bug's Life, anyone?
After the butterflies had hatched, we had a really interesting assignment that has stuck with me to this day; we were assigned to write letters to a class of students in Mexico, to tell them about our experiences with the butterflies. We wrote things like, "Take care of Flutter for me!" and "My butterfly likes Milkweed" or at least I imagine that's what we said. I actually can't remember, but those sound like viable options. Then, our teacher took our letters, and sent them to our southern-most neighbor. Months passed (I even think the summer passed!) before we heard back from the class about our butterflies; however, once we got our letters- it was as if we had been invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! To have updates on "our" butterflies (they were obviously not the same ones, but still) was magical, and to be able to communicate with kids from another country was a true joy.
As I look back on this assignment, I have a few thoughts.
Monarch butterflies are SO badass
My elementary school had EXCEPTIONAL teachers and projects
Migration is beautiful
I think so often in today's world, topics like migration and immigration are spoken about with great negativity, fear, and in some cases, hatred. Unfortunately, these topics have become hyper-politicized, and a lot of fighting takes place due to these issues. I want us all to remember that migration is a natural phenomenon that takes place for so many of Earth's creatures: Monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, blue whales, wildebeests, and everyone's favorite: bearded pigs- just to name a few! Now, I have a simple question for you:
Why do animals migrate?
Here are a few simple answers to that question:
So they can find better suited living conditions (bye, Minnesota)
So they can find food for their families
So they have a higher chance of survival
All of these reasons mirror why a human would migrate. So if migration is such a beautiful phenomenon for animals, why is it seen as such an ugly thing for people?
It is soon to be 2020, and I believe in a more welcoming world for migrants, immigrants, and refugees. When I look back at my childhood project and see two countries working together over a common curiosity and love of monarch butterflies, I fill with both happiness and hope that we can soon get back on path to a more understanding world! I believe we can learn a great deal from migrating creatures, like monarch butterflies, and their ability to know what the right path is for their species. If they are able to peacefully travel to new lands, AND do it collectively as one great species, then so should humans. That is why I chose to be a monarch butterfly this year, because I believe that migration- by any species- is beautiful.
Side note: I did not wear this costume to dance class for two reasons. 1) migration is a sensitive topic to some, and it's not appropriate to bring anything political into a dance studio where kids are learning how to "shuffle" or "flap" in tap shoes; and 2) literally ZERO kids would be able to see through those wings and watch themselves dance in the mirror!!! Instead of making an appearance at the studio, this costume and I passed out candy with my lovely friend Jenn and my dog Lily (who was a donut for the third year in a row 🍩🐶). It was a lovely way to end the 2019 Halloween season!
Overall, I'm so thankful to have been able to celebrate my favorite holiday in full-motion this year. Not every country in the world celebrates Halloween like Americans do, and it was a real TREAT to be here during my favorite time of year.
Now, it's officially time for me to step down from my holiday pedestal, and let the Thanksgiving-loving people claim their rightful place during the month of November.🍂🦃 Thank you to everyone who read this post! I hope you had a great Halloween and are ready for this winter's festivities.
I wish you all well.