Tonight, all across the country and in different communities across the globe, folks will be getting into the Halloween spirit. Everywhere you look, Halloween will be visible. Look around, you will see folks dressed as their favorite scary movie character; television specials; and groups of kids going from house to house trick or treating.
Many people celebrate Halloween without knowing how this ancient festival came about. So where did Halloween come from, and why is it called Halloween?
Facts About Halloween
Halloween is actually 2000 years old having originated in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Northwestern France. Halloween also has Celtic roots from the festival Samhain “Summers End”. The Celts believed that Samhain was “a time when the dead could walk among the living”. It certainly sends a chill down your spine! (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/halloween-fast-facts/index.html)
The word Halloween is also an abbreviated version rooted in the phrases All Hallows’ Eve or All Hallows’ Evening. Today, Halloween is celebrated by 179 million Americans with total spending in 2017 projected to “reach 9.1 billion, with the average consumer planning to spend $86.13 on decorations, candy, costumes and more.” Despite Halloween being a hugely significant time for retailers, Halloween can also be a time of bringing people together either in a community event, inviting friends and family to Halloween party, or encouraging your work team mates to participate in an activity to promote staff engagement.
Surprise for NICU Neonates
One novel Halloween idea was introduced at St Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City Missouri. Nurses and Volunteers from The March of Dimes decided it was time to do something a little different for Halloween. Creativity and ingenuity were used to design a range of costumes for the babies of St. Luke’s NICU. They also designed “crocheted candy filled pumpkins to mimic trick or treating”.
Parents were also consulted to select costumes that best suited the baby’s personalities. The hospitals director of media relations, Michelle Manuel speaking with ABC News said “The idea is to be able to allow parents to have a sense of normalcy. In the NICU you might be there for weeks or months and this is to help spend that first Halloween and those special first moments together — make those special family memories with us.” (http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/nicu-babies-special-tiny-halloween-costumes/story?id=43069099&cid=share_facebook_widget)
A broad range of unique tiny handmade felt costumes included everything from “butterflies to ladybugs to Kansas City Royals players” not to forget superheroes such as superman. Along with these cute costumes, volunteers and nurses gave families a “trick or treat, smell my feet card”. This included their babies footprints, a hand-crocheted pumpkin packed with treats, and a Halloween book. Ideal for parents and babies to share in the coming year. The staff at the NICU were all very much in favor of this idea.
Wheelchairs Getting a Halloween Makeover
A new spin on a Halloween party that enables children in wheelchairs to participate was introduced at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Salt Lake City. They decided to stage a Halloween costume clinic last week for 21 young patients. These patients’ are not able to walk so require wheelchairs. Ashley Pederson, 34, a preschooler’s mum, mother of 3 said “Just maneuvering the wheelchair and trying to figure out how to incorporate it into a costume was difficult”. Children in wheel chairs all too often find that they are watching the fun without being able to participate.
The hospital arranged a daylong event where wheelchairs were given a bit of Halloween flair. Children’s dreams were made into reality, as some wheelchairs were turned into bat mobiles and popcorn machines. Matching costumes were also designed.
Director of the Hospital’s seating and mobility, Matt Lowell, told PEOPLE Human Interest on line magazine “Every kid wants to go trick-or-treating just like their friends, but with a wheelchair to deal with, having a fun Halloween isn’t always easy.”
Lowell was inspired by this idea when numerous parents told him about their challenge of designing custom-made wheelchair costumes. Thanks to Matt Lowell and his team, children in wheelchairs could now fully participate in the festive celebrations. (http://people.com/human-interest/hospital-transforms-kids-wheelchairs-halloween-costumes/)
NASA Takes on Pumpkins – Engineering style
The team at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory also gets into the Halloween spirit each year with this event held at the California Lab. In last year’s competition, there were a variety of submissions from NASA competitors including a PAC-MAN pumpkin, a Tyson pumpkin, and a Darth Vader Jack O’Lantern. However, NASA’s team was able to top that by using their vast engineering knowledge and scientific expertise to combine “gourds with cold hard science and a touch of Halloween magic”. The entries were shared on Twitter by Mechanical Engineer Aaron Yazzie. There was even a pumpkin carved “as a stand-in for the Mars Rover complete with a greenlight and a Forrest Gump quote, that may be an inside NASA joke”. (http://time.com/4547909/nasa-wins-halloween-with-superior-pumpkin-carving-skills/)
Despite being 2000 years old, Halloween is still vibrantly celebrated today. It may be far more commercial than it ever was, yet when done right it can change lives. Staff at St Luke’s hospital engaged families and their babies by designing gorgeous costumes bringing a festive flavor to a Halloween spent in the NICU. As Michele Manuel, Director of Media Relations at St Luke’s says, “it gives parents a sense of normalcy”. Others like Matt Lowell at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Salt Lake City, are giving kids in wheelchairs an unforgettable experience.
Halloween can also be a time of combining talents and creating a more cohesive team focused culture. Those folks from NASA lab arrange a competition where the best carved out design will win. Halloween is also a time of community and family togetherness. Why not host a community event or invite family and friends to join in a Halloween party this year!