Halloween and Bonfire Night: Celebrating with Consideration
Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner, offering us the chance to enjoy costumes, treats, bonfires, and fireworks. However, it's essential to remember that not everyone shares the same excitement for these festivities. Our work at PeoplePlus sees us helping and supporting people who are neurodivergent, the elderly and those who are living with conditions like dementia. We take a look back to the origins of the traditions and offer some simple advice to everyone on how to be considerate and inclusive while enjoying the celebrations this year.
Halloween: A Quick Historical Overview
The UK's Halloween tradition has ancient Celtic roots, stemming from the festival of Samhain, celebrating the harvest's end and the onset of winter. Samhain marked a time when the Celts believed the boundary between the living and the dead was thin. They celebrated with bonfires, costumes, and games. After the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, Samhain was merged with the Roman festival of Feralia, a day to commemorate the dead. This led to the development of All Souls' Day. Over time, the customs associated with Samhain and All Souls' Day evolved into what we now know as Halloween.
Supporting Those Who May Not Enjoy Halloween
Not everyone enjoys Halloween - it can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities, such as those with autism or sensory processing disorders. The loud noises, costumes, and sudden surprises can cause discomfort or anxiety. For those who prefer not to participate in Halloween, resources like "Sorry, no trick or treat" posters created by neighborhood watch organizations are available. Many local police forces offer similar materials on their websites, creating a more comfortable environment for those who choose not to partake. Download yours here
Bonfire Night: A Glimpse into the Past
Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, commemorates the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. On November 5th, Guy Fawkes was arrested guarding explosives beneath the House of Lords. King James I ordered that bonfires be lit throughout London to celebrate the failure of the plot and fireworks are symbolic of the light that defeated the darkness of the Gunpowder Plot.
Being Mindful of Those Who May Not Enjoy Bonfire Night
While Bonfire Night is exciting for many, it's important to consider those who may not share the same enthusiasm. The noise and commotion from fireworks can be distressing for several groups, including:
Autistic Individuals: Bonfire Night can be overwhelming for some autistic people. Find tips for enjoying the evening safely here
PTSD Sufferers: For those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an exaggerated startle response, fear of sound (phonophobia), aversion to specific sounds (misophonia), and a difficulty in tolerance and volume of sounds that would not be considered loud by normal hearing individuals (hyperacusis) means firework ‘season’ in October and November can be a hugely traumatic time for people with PTSD and C-PTSD. Read more here
Dementia Patients: Loud noises, such as fireworks, can be confusing, frightening, or trigger unwanted memories for individuals with dementia. The Alzheimer's Society provides tips on supporting dementia patients during fireworks. Read more here
Pets: Fireworks can also distress animals, each reacting uniquely. To ensure your furry friends' comfort and safety, consult the PDSA website.
As Halloween and Bonfire Night approach, let's remember that not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for these festivities. By being considerate of the diverse needs and sensitivities of our community members, we can ensure that everyone can enjoy these occasions in their own way. Whether you choose to embrace the traditions or opt-out, let's make these events a time of understanding, inclusivity, and consideration for all. Happy Halloween and Bonfire Night!