There are pumpkins everywhere these days: some are plastic and sitting on front porches and some are in huge grocery store bins. All are awaiting the end of this month when pumpkins come alive as grinning, spooky creatures lighting up the night.
These squashes apparently originated in North America and seeds, dating as far back as 5000 B.C., have been found in Mexico. The name pumpkin, supposedly taken from the Greek word 'pelon' (meaning a large melon), has traveled through many countries and languages to its current name. Eventually the pumpkin made its way to Europe where it had an amazing transformation - the Jack o'Lantern.
The story behind this fiendish creation is an Irish or Celtic myth about a man called 'Stingy Jack', who fell afoul of the Devil himself. Soon the Jack o'Lantern became part of the Halloween tradition, especially here in North America.
1. A pumpkin is technically a fruit and belongs to the same plant family as cucumbers.
2. Pumpkins are 90% water. (does that include pumpkin pie???)
3. Pumpkins were once recommended as a cure for freckles.
4. Pumpkins were once used as a remedy for snake bites.
5. Pumpkins play a role in fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
6. Pumpkins are grown on every continent except for Antarctica.
7. The world's heaviest pumpkin to date was grown in Germany in 2016 and weighed over 2,600 lbs.
While some of you are planning your Halloween pumpkin carving, those of us on Garden Island have already done so.Because most of the cottagers leave the island at the end of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, one of our traditions is the annual pumpkin carving contest.
I've written about this event before, but this year's contest included a new activity. Here's the story behind it:
Two years ago, the parents of a five year old boy entered the contest. Unfortunately, to the boy's dismay, they didn't win. It's a contest, right? We adults get that and know that no matter how many entries there are every year, only two winners are picked. The problem was, the prize (besides a plastic, multi-colored and glitzy pumpkin trophy) was a large box of those mini-chocolate bars sold everywhere at Halloween time.That five year old had his eyes on the box throughout the viewing and voting. Yes, there were tears afterwards but some compensation was made by the winners who shared.
Skip to this year when an imaginative organizer spinned a new twist on the contest. Around the perimeter of the viewing tables hung 3 large pumpkins.
Their bottoms had been skillfully cut and their innards filled with - yes - mini-chocolate bars and all sorts of other candies. Pumpkin pinatas!
Children only were qualified to take a swing with a plastic baseball bat. No one minded not getting chosen to swing (first hand up basis) because the spilled contents belonged to all the kids fast enough to scavenge. And were they fast! Naturally, there was discreet help for the not-so-quick youngsters.
Every year some of the entries recount a story of a happening or event on the island during the summer. This year, the winning entry was this:
Can you guess what Garden Island happening was the story behind it?
Hint: I referred to it in my September post.
Janice! This is the most darling story...I could see a book coming out of this. That poor little boy. I hope he got to scramble for the piñata treats this year. We, too, have a pumpkin carving party. But not for the community, just at my friends house. Our trophy is a bottle of wine and then a lovely autumn dinner served by the fireplace with lots of Halloween decorations she's accumulated over the years. We light our carved pumpkins and then put them on the front step of her house. I usually do something outrageous and make garlands around the top of the pumpkin using fallen autumn leaves as patterns and lots of gold glitter on the interior. Happy Halloween!ReplyDelete
That sounds like a wonderful evening Catherine! And I’m looking forward to seeing photos of your decorations.Delete
One year when I was a kid, we carved our pumpkins on the patio. There was a dead tree there and some of the seeds got into the soil. The next year we had a tree festooned with pumpkin vines and pumpkins hanging everywhere.ReplyDelete
Oh I like that story Callie! I can just picture it too and trust you got to enjoy some of those pumpkins.Delete
I like that story, too! Although I'm a fall person, I don't decorate or anything--I just look at other people's stuff. And enjoy their stories!Delete
Haha. Same here Liz. I love to look but am hopeless at doing.Delete
I love your pumpkin trivia, and the carving contest sounds like great fun. Love the pumpkin pinata. This year our garden yielded only two pumpkins and they're about softball size, but I still have last year's pumpkin in the freezer, so I'm stocked for pumpkin pies. Once I had an overgrown zuchini too woody to eat, so he got made into a jack-0-lantern (zuchini-0-lantern?)ReplyDelete
That’s a good use of those overgrown zucchinis. One year someone carved a giant puffball into a skull and it won! Tho someone else muttered that it was supposed to be a pumpkin carving....:)Delete
About the only way I've ever enjoyed pumpkin was to cook it! lol. It's really good when you add a little butter and cook it in a black skillet until it's golden brown. I like it in pies, too. Love your story about the little boy!ReplyDelete
Yes we tend to think of it as a dessert source. It’s also good in a curry. Thanks Pat!Delete
With all the fun looking food I've created and all the tools I have for making food into flowers, football helmets, and cakes that look like the Barbie's car, I have never carved a pumpkin. I've bought pumpkins with painted faces on them, used pumpkins in tablescapes. I can't carve pumpkins this year. I have a deadline that rushing toward me like Niagara Falls. So I have to write.ReplyDelete
I hear you Shirley. I’ve always left the carving to family members. Good luck with the deadline!Delete
Someone told me that when you buy a can of pumpkin puree, it is really squash puree. Apparently squash cooks and bakes better than pumpkin. I love roasting and salting the seeds!ReplyDelete
I remember roasting pumpkin seeds, Elizabeth and love them. Interesting what you say about canned pumpkin. I’ve just baked a small one, puréed it and have made pumpkin ginger squares that look yummy. The purée was a much brighter orange than in a can.Delete
I've always enjoyed pumpkins taking on the personality of the faces people create with them--they seem so real. Love their role in fairy tales. I sometimes think I'm drawn to the pumpkin pie spices more than the pumpkin itself.ReplyDelete
True Virginia...without those spices I think pumpkin might be a tad bland. And it is interesting how they play a role in fairy and folk tales. Perhaps because of the Jack o’Lantern incarnation?Delete
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