Carving Out a Happy Halloween
Have you ever wondered where the tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns came from? Well, we did too. So we did a little research to learn more about his rather unique custom.
Where Halloween Began
First—let’s talk about where Halloween itself came from. Although many have heard of the Christian holiday “All Hallow’s Eve”, few may have heard of Samhain, a Pagan holiday that marked the official end of summer and celebrated its harvest. Druids also believed that it was a time when the veil between the living and dead thinned, and that those who had died would reappear—often in the form of witches and ghosts.
To combat this ghostly invasion, Celts would light bonfires and dress in costumes, hoping to confuse or frighten evil spirits.
Later, when Christianity took hold in Ireland and Scotland, the celebration became part of the All Saint’s Day celebration proclaimed in the eighth century by Pope Gregory III.
The Legend of Stingy Jack
The carving of pumpkins is believed to date back to the seventeenth century or earlier and stems from an Irish folktale about a man named “Stingy Jack.” According to the lore, Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him—but then refused to pay. Although stories differ, they all end with Jack roaming the earth with only the light that came from an ember in a lantern carved from a turnip.
The carrying of lanterns carved from vegetables on Halloween became a tradition. Turnips, potatoes, beets and rutabagas were popular in Ireland and Scotland; however, when many immigrated to North America in the mid-1800’s and their customs adopted, native pumpkins were used for the lanterns.
1. Pumpkins are native to North America and estimated to be up to 5,000 years old
2. Native Americans grew pumpkins for centuries, and eventually introduced them to Europeans arriving in the New Rold.
3. Pumpkins are actually fruits—not vegetables.
4. It takes between 90-110 days to grow most varieties of pumpkins.
5. The largest pumpkin is believed to have weighed nearly 1,150 pounds.