If you were to describe Halloween in one word, which word would come to your mind?
To many in the West, words such as “trick-or-treat” and “best costumes” may pop up. To local people in Germany, they would think of “Reformation” and “Martin Luther”, for the 31st of October is, for them, a day to commemorate Martin Luther and the “Reformation” of the Christian Church. However, would it ever occur to you that words such as “education” and “charity” could be connected to Halloween?
For some, for example, in Montreal, the yearly Halloween, which falls on a cool chilly day in the Fall, is a charitable occasion, as school children tag along their little orange-coloured UNICEF trick-or-treat paper box with them on their trick-or-treating.
This iconic box is close to 15 cm x 6 cm x 10 cm in size and has a slot on the top side, which allows coins and bills to slip through. If a child rings at one’s door and one does not feel like giving out candies, one may opt for dropping money into the UNICEF box, in support of its work in child protection and inclusion, education and social policy.
UNICEF, which is the abbreviation for “the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund”, was founded in 1946 as an agency under the United Nations and its headquarters are located in New York City. This organization is commissioned to providing humanitarian and developmental help to children around the world.
Interestingly enough, the donation collection with these boxes on Halloween Day gives an educational purpose to the day, despite it having evolved over the years into an occasion on which dreadful-looking costumes, horrific makeup and scary movies are celebrated. How brilliant it was for UNICEF to initiate and maintain an educational and charitable spirit amidst a Halloween culture that is highly immersed in the fun-making, costume-wearing and candy-eating!
Halloween 2020 is going to be held amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the restrictions and lockdown regulations, perhaps many of us will simply indulge ourselves as couch potatoes on the living-room sofa. What about the yearly UNICEF collection of donations with the lovely and cute orange boxes? The institution has not revealed its decision regarding the matter this year yet. Let us hope that the pandemic will be over by October 2021 and that the meaningful educational Halloween program from UNICEF will take place again, once more, next year.
By Yvonne Y. F. Kelle