Halloween is big with me, having grown up in Florida. So when I moved to Sweden over 10 years ago, I sadly learned that Halloween celebrations were almost unheard of. Thank goodness I worked at M.A.C. Cosmetics and was able to let my creativity flow and spread Hallloween fun with my co-workers and clients.
Lucky for us, a century later… Sweden has caught on a little. And nobody is happier than me! We’ve always had Halloween parties and let the kids go trick-or-treating (bus-eller-godis). When we lived in our apartment building in Stockholm, the neighbours were usually not prepared for the little monsters knocking on the door demanding candy “godis” or receiving tricks “bus” if no candy was given…. But then we moved to Gällstaö, Ekerö. And this is where my american self was re-inspired when a flyer dropped into my mailbox around the first of October, 2011. Gällstaö had its very own organized trick-or-treating activity arranged by an amazing American mom living in the community, wanting to spread our fun American traditions to the likes of all our friendly neighbours on the island.
I immediately contacted Cindy (the amazing american mom) and offered my help. I wanted to be involved! This was so fun, I was SOOO grateful for this womans inspiration to wanting all the kids on Gällstaö to enjoy our fun American tradition, and making it easier by guiding swedes into it, by setting a time, date, place to gather, map of houses wanting to be involved as “trick-or-treat” homes, and even getting a donation from Gällstaö community to buy candy for the homes volunteering to open up when “bus-eller-godis” eager monsters come knocking on the door at said time. When I contacted Cindy to say I wanted to help, I of course had a hidden agenda in wanting to be able to reach out about allergy safety. So I GLADLY volunteered to purchase the candy with the donation money so I could read all labels, and know that the candy that Gällstaö bought was safe for those suffering from nut allergy (like my daughter). This is something my daughter had never experienced… being able to actually eat the candy she received when trick-or-treating. Since this tradition is fairly new in Sweden, swedes aren’t accustomed to all the fun prewrapped halloween goodies we have in the states, instead they buy “plock godis” which is not only unsanitary when you think of all the little monsters and goblins hands that reach in those bowls to grab candy, but also not safe for nut allergy suffers because the risk of cross-contamination is so high. So you can imagine my daughters (and hopefully other nut allergy suffering children) delight when she could actually eat a good percentage of that candy. I have been on the bandwagon ever since, doing my little part in Cindys amazing and most popular Trick or Treat Event, by purchasing the safe candy.
Last year, The Teal Pumpkin Project, created by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) started a campaign called the #tealpumpkinproject. Teal is the color for Food Allergy Awareness. The purpose of this project is formost to raise awareness of food allergies, especially around holidays like Halloween, when so many children with food allergies sadly have nothing to chose from when a house offers a bin full of snickers bars or assorted chocolates, etc. The teal pumpkin project emphasizes and urges homes to also offer “non candy” or “non food” treats, so EVERY trick or treater that comes by has something they can happily enjoy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and the list of suggestions for non-candy items is endless. Spider rings, pencils, fun erasers, finger puppets, stamps, necklaces, glowsticks, pirate treasure coins, balloons,… the list is endless. Use your imagination! Not only is it healthier for children, reducing sugar intake… but it also includes ALL children. Even those with food allergies. No child wants to be excluded, especially over something they can’t control – like a life threatening food allergy.
So here’s the deal, to join the #tealpumpkinprojectsweden :
- Paint a pumpkin teal and place it outside (this will signal to the children with food allergies that you support them, and have something safe for them)
- Make a sign! Letting allergy kids know you have something fun for them too!
- Buy non-food/non-candy to add to your assortment of treats to offer trick-or-treaters.
- Take a picture of your pumpkin and post it on Instagram #tealpumpkinprojectsweden