If you notice a trick-or-treater carrying a blue pumpkin bucket this year, it may convey a message. So what does a blue pumpkin mean on Halloween? It could be a subtle way to let others know more about the person who is out trick-or-treating.
The idea started last year when one mom wanted to let neighbors know her 21-year-old autistic son was trick-or-treating by using a blue bucket. Basically, the blue bucket acted as a signal that he was not in fact "too old" to be out trick-or-treating. What started as a sort of heads' up Facebook post for neighbors caught a lot of attention (because it's a great idea, to be honest), and the post went viral, generating over 28,000 shares and 17,000 reactions.
That said, the practice of using a blue bucket to represent trick-or-treaters with autism is still more of a grassroots thing. "As far as we are aware, this is not a nationally recognized practice," Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, tells Romper via email. So although trick-or-treating with blue buckets to signify autism is not yet a widespread practice, as further noted by the fact-checking site Snopes, the idea is still generating some serious love online. For instance, Instagram user @raisingcultures posted a pic of the blue bucket and its explanation, along with a personal, heartfelt caption.
"I love this! My sister who is an adult but is also on the spectrum absolutely loves and enjoys going trickortreating 💙 Last year she helped me pull the baby in the wagon from house to house!! The smile on her face when she got candy in her bucket was priceless! This is awesome sauce!"
However, carrying a blue bucket is not the only way persons with autism may signify their condition on Halloween. "Some parents of children with autism choose to hand out cards similar to these on our website," says Fournier, adding that others make their own cards specific to their child’s needs. The cards may explain that a child is nonverbal, for instance. In addition, people with autism may "wear a special badge or carry a bag with a sign so that the people who give out treats understand [they] might communicate a little bit differently," according to the Autism Speaks Halloween guide. In other words, people on the spectrum may choose to celebrate this holiday in all sorts of ways, and this may includes communicating their autism to others through cards, signs, or (perhaps) colorful candy buckets. If you're in need of a blue bucket yourself, by the way, you may or may not find them at your local Halloween supply store, but they are available on Amazon for just $10.
The blue bucket is not the only "secret signal" associated with Halloween, either. Raising awareness about food allergies in children, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a similar sort of idea. Participating families can put a teal-painted pumpkin in front of their homes to advertise the availability of non-food treats such as stickers or small toys at Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps promote a more inclusive trick-or-treating experience for all kids.
Really, all of these pumpkins, candy buckets, and other signs are simply ways to help everybody enjoy Halloween a little more. And if any holiday should be about inclusivity and treats for everybody, Halloween is it.