Tuesday, November 1, 2016

EVENTS | A Scandinavian Halloween with Vikings and gods

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No, this ain't Christmas. It's Halloween!

Where I work, Halloween is so BIG. It's HUGE! GINORMOUS! EPIC! Even though it's officially a workday, it's practically a holiday where parents bring their costumed kids to our building for some trick-or-treating. And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year, with our HR steadily introducing more and more contests. Aside from different variations of best in costume for kids, there's now one for adults as well.

Workspace-decorating, however, has been the core of our Halloween celebrations for many years now--and people are serious about it. Never mind that the prize isn't really that substantial; I guess it's the sheer joy of doing it that motivates employees to put up a great show. Okay, and maybe bragging rights for the winners.

But auditors being the stereotypical boring professionals that we (supposedly) are, we never ever bothered joining the annual competition until two years ago when we decked our office in a full-blown Hogwarts theme for Halloween, followed by some Shark Tale under the sea Halloween decor last year.

This time it's Norway.

Yes, a Norway theme for Halloween. Confused? Well, our HR designated an around the world motif where we get to pick our country of choice, subject to a first-come, first-served basis of course (first two actually). We were given the freedom to feature anything about that country: famous landmarks, tourist spots, mythology, and even movies set there.

We settled for Norway, which we believe wouldn't be an obvious pick for anyone. The other two we submitted were Denmark and Sweden (we were asked to submit three countries just in case someone else beat us to our first choice), so that whatever happens, our planned decor would essentially still be the same because it's all Scandinavia. These Nordic countries, after all, share a lot in common, Vikings just being one of them.

You got it, this isn't modern-day Norway but Viking-era Scandinavia. Now let's go for a tour, shall we?

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Some lady Vikings welcome visitors at the door.

Welcome to Norway!
Visitors are ushered into a dimly-lit tavern where a boisterous gang of Vikings yell in chorus: "Welcome to Norway!" Ale is offered to the weary trick-or-treater who's now exhausted traveling from floor to floor for sweets. Okay, it's juice. Of course we won't serve kids ale!

Vikings would cheer "Shot! Shot! Shot!" or "Juice! Juice! Juice!" as each visitor chugs his drink. It must be really fun in there, I'm jealous (I was assigned at a different station so I missed all the fun). There's also a big burly bloke who'll challenge kids to an arm-wrestling match for some candies if they defeat him. Of course he'd let the poor kids win each time.

To make the tavern, we used old newspaper that's painted over, while sheets of cloth, glasses, and whatnot provided accents.

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Inside the tavern, all bathed in dim, yellow light.

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A barmaid gleefully serves drinks while visitors are getting intoxicated behind her. No, it must be the sugar rush.

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Bartenders hard at work to keep up with the demand for ale, er, juice.

Training with Vikings
After an unconventionally dark and dimly-lit welcome, visitors are surprised to exit a bright and airy scenery of fjords and waterfalls on one side and open hilly fields on the other. There's an area for sword fighting, where Vikings challenge kids in exchange for treats. There's also a spot for archery, where the number of candies a kid gets depends on where the arrow fell on the target. I'd like to believe that maybe somehow we're teaching them the value of hard work.

Again we used old newspaper for this section, this time to form the fjords and hills. When we ran out of newspaper and paint we resorted to some garbage bags as extenders--the very same ones we've been using for three years now. Then there's crepe paper and all sorts of makeshift props to complete the whole look. The waterfall was two sheets of cloth lit up from behind and two small desk fans blowing from underneath it.

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Coming from a dark space, visitors were reportedly visibly surprised to come out to a brightly lit area.

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The sword fighting area. On the right is the space for archery.

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Sword fighting in progress. Apparently when Hiccup isn't training dragons, he's teaching kids how to be Vikings.

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The archery strip. No Katniss or Legolas here. Or Hawkeye. No Green Arrow either.

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And you thought our bow and arrows were some violent Viking contraption? We had to be kid-friendly, so no sharp and pointed objects allowed.

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Here's another kid trying his aim. This one's a Viking, though. Just look at the print on his shirt.

Winter wonderland
After training with Vikings, we're now going into frozen territory that's once again made of sheets of painted-over newspaper. They're also supplemented with white cloth, Japanese paper, and all sorts of stuff scavenged from previous years's decors. There's a teeny weeny frozen lake here and in an adjacent section, an ice cave. Brrr!

Instead of salmon, kids would have to fish candies out of the frozen lake. Simply giving them away would be boring, so we tried making things a little more exciting for these tots. Meanwhile in the ice cave, a pair of Vikings were handing out some frozen delights. We originally wanted a snow cone station but unfortunately that didn't pan out.

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The frozen lake area before the lake was lit with LED lights from underneath.

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Fishing for candies: now who wouldn't want that?

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The ice cave. I wish we never had to dismantle all this.

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Oh, a photo wall! Absolutely no graphics to ruin the majestic Northern lights (aurora borealis) scenery here.

Norse mythology
You thought we'd be content with Vikings alone? Norway, of course, has a rich--if not violent--mythology of Norse gods, goddesses, and other beings. To the uninitiated, Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdallr, Frigga, et al. are not Marvel's creations, nor are Asgard, Valhalla, etc. Marvel merely borrowed from Norse mythology, dialled down the weirdness and violence, and adapted them for comics.

However, we also couldn't afford to follow the weirdness and violence of the mythology to the letter because we had to be kid-friendly. So after Marvel borrowed from Norse mythology, we now borrowed from Marvel so that our gods appear more recognizable to kids and adults alike.

Ergo we have Heimdallr guarding the gates to Asgard, barring entry to any trick-or-treater who didn't know who the god of thunder is. Our Asgard is decked in tinsel, various sheets of cloth, and warm Christmas lights.

Once inside, a pair of goddesses let kids inside an area to search for gifts (actually just a bunch of tinsel-covered stuff) that they needed to offer to Odin in exchange for candy. Our Odin was most kid-loving.

Children could also play with Loki, the master of mischief and trickery. Obviously he wouldn't just voluntarily hand out treats, as he made them guess which cup hid the precious candy. Well, even adults joined in the fray.

Thor, on the other hand, camped by the Yggdrasil, the tree of life that connects the nine worlds, which we made out of old newspaper, wires, and crepe paper. He gave out sweets to anyone who was "worthy" and could lift his Mjölnir. It was fun to see the faces of some kids who were visibly surprised to see that it was very light.

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Heimdallr standing guard at the gates of Asgard. I personally love his costume, an amazing DIY work. Seeing his helmet actually inspired me to go ahead and make my own horns for my Loki costume.

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This is where kids searched for their offerings of gold bars, silver bars (there's such a thing?), and what-have-you to Odin.

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A section of our Yggdrasil, which sported gold, yellow, and orange leaves.

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Odin's throne, before being desecrated by rowdy trick-or-treaters.

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Our Odin appears to be a very happy one.

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Loki interacting with kids. I was all smiles yet there were still a handful of kids who were afraid of me. What gives?

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Ah, there's a "worthy" kid who was successful at lifting Thor's Mjölnir. Meanwhile, our Thor looks like he's just been to the salon.

Dragon's lair
Dragons are also part of Nordic myths, so we thought of squeezing in one. The plan was for kids to steal dragon eggs without waking up the creature. Unfortunately due to time constraints we only managed to do the head and let kids freely get eggs straight from the dragon's mouth. Weird how this one incubates her eggs, huh!

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Oh, look, a dragon hatchling!

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This dragon's got an underbite. And she's really weird incubating her eggs this way, don't you think?

And that's it, people exit the hall. T'was tiring but fun as always. Till next time! I'll leave you with a couple more pics from the event, pics of the people who helped make it all happen.

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Pub people. The Vikings at the tavern.

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Thor is such a flirt, he even snuck in a barmaid to Asgard.

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Be deceived not by the harmless looks of this one. Remember, she is a Viking, although her weapon of choice is a camera.

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Our Viking swordsmen, Hiccup included. I heard some kids were scared of this lot that they weren't willing to play the game. But why? They look harmless.

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The Nordic lady archers. Never mind that one of them fell asleep holding the target.

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Fisherfolk of Scandinavia. Such a smiling duo.

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Cavemen, er, women. I guess the cold never bothered you anyway.

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Vikings astray.

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Goddesses of Asgard.

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Our Frigga was trying to look ethereal but someone is apparently not taking her seriously.

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Odin seems happy with his gold and silver bars and his goddess assistant by his side.

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Guardians of the eggs?

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Who says auditors are boring? Happy Halloween!

Thanks to Jas Adolfo for some of the photos, the ones with humans in them.

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