How Halloween in Prague is bridging cultures and helping children

The sixth annual Prague Halloween: Trick-or-Treat for Charity brings Czechs and expat families together in the name of candy – and charity.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 26.10.2022 11:30:00 (updated on 26.10.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

Halloween's popularity in the Czech Republic has increased in recent years, although some factions of society complain that it’s a sign of globalization and a threat to Czech tradition.

But those who’ve walked the streets of Prague’s Vinohrady district over the past several Halloweens have witnessed both Czech and expat families coming together to create a new tradition that’s neither American nor Czech but a wonderful mix of the two.

Now in its sixth year, Prague Halloween: Trick-or-Treat for Charity is an event designed to give mixed-culture families in the Czech capital the chance to celebrate this traditional American holiday while raising funds for a good cause locally.

Organized by long-time Vinohrady resident Dinah Richter-Spritzer, a journalist, diversity trainer, and mother of young twins, the event takes the form of traditional trick-or-treating with a charitable twist.

Dinah Spritzer Richter handing out candy in front of her Vinohrady apartment.
Dinah Spritzer-Richter handing out candy in front of her Vinohrady apartment.

“I started this back in 2017 because the idea of just asking for candy didn’t feel right to me. I wanted to give something back to the country that gave plenty to me without separating myself from the Czech people but also without imposing something on them.”

Richter-Spritzer's idea of sharing a holiday with Czechs and giving back to a Czech charity led to collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages, an organization that provides foster homes and cares for families in crisis. To date, the trick-or-treat charity event has raised nearly half a million crowns for SOS Children’s Villages, bringing in CZK 65,000 last year alone.

The money donated at each stop on the trick-or-treat map helps send disadvantaged kids to summer camps, zoos, and museums, some for the first time in their lives. The funds also provided therapy for children who had experienced severe traumas.

This year Richter-Spritzer expects 300 families, and a minimum of 600 kids. Jeremy Miller, a California native, his Czech/Slovak wife Barbara, and their son Leo, 9, will be among those families.

Thanks to the event, Leo and Barbara will have a chance to experience trick-or-treating for the first time.

“I think he's going to love it and we're excited to teach him about charity and how we're helping others in the process,” says Miller who appreciates the event for giving kids (and their parents) a chance to see how giving can be more fulfilling than simply receiving.

The event relies on local residents and businesses to hand out candy and collect money. So far this year, nearly 50 volunteers have signed up to distribute treats from homes, storefronts, or parks.

Regina Sieber, founder of LaTable, a shop that stocks gourmet goodies and home accessories will participate in the event as both a business owner and parent.

A mother of a 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, Sieber says that the event creates a special community atmosphere for both the expat and Czech families, like her own, who participate.

“Our business philosophy is based on the idea that sitting around the table together erases national and cultural differences, connects people, and makes friends across all ages, genders, and nationalities. That’s something that’s in line with this event.”

Sieber will be opening her Manésova shop as a pitstop on the trick-or-treat trail, pouring wine for parents and “blood tea” for kids. Other businesses participating for the first time include The Miners, The Face Place, and The Borsch. The event welcomes back long-time participants Beer Geek, Burrito Loco, Baby Junior, Kiddum, and Prague Thrift Shop (which goes all out with decorations and much-need wine for parents).

Not only has this annual trick-or-treat outing proven an effective way of bridging cultural understanding about foreign traditions in a Czech context, but it also gives the holiday a meaningful new dimension for Czech children in need, says Radana Koštialiková, donor care specialist for SOS Children’s Villages.

SOS Children's villages
Photo of Czech children from SOS Children's Villages enjoying an outing.

“In the Czech tradition, we celebrate All Souls' Day more as a memory of those who have left us. Trick-or-treating is not a tradition in our culture, yet in recent years more and more children have been dressing up and celebrating Halloween. The Halloween collection organized by Dinah is a wonderful opportunity for Czech children and children of foreign expats to get involved in an activity that is close to them and at the same time help less fortunate children.”

Richter-Spritzer says throughout the years the event hasn’t just had a positive impact on the community but has also helped her gain a better understanding of the Czech mindset.

“People kept telling me Czechs hated Halloween because it was this invasive colonial holiday, you know, imperialism. Like Santa! And I didn’t want to stand for that. As soon as I partnered with a Czech charity, the Czechs I met thought this whole thing thought it was brilliant. It proved to me once again that this is a country where you have to be patient. No, this isn’t smiley have-a-nice-day land, but Czechs are some of the most generous people on the planet."

As an added benefit, Richter-Spritzer says that the event has taught her own kids to be grateful for what they have. “And it allows me to be 100 percent myself, which is a woman with a foot in both countries,” she adds.

Prague Halloween: Trick-or-Treat for Charity takes place on Oct. 31 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sign up to trick-or-treat or hand out candy here. You can also make a Halloween donation to SOS Villages here.

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