It’s Pumpkin Season!
While pumpkins are native to North America, it’s Ireland that generates most of Halloween’s pumpkin traditions. Jack o’lanterns originated in Ireland to stave off evil spirits.
Initially, the lantern carvings were made from turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes – vegetables that were plentiful back in their homeland. The carved faces represented demons intended to frighten away evil spirits. Eventually, people placed candles in the hollowed-out vegetables to keep away the ghosts on the Samhain (summer’s end) holiday. It was said that if a demon were to encounter something as fiendish-looking as themselves that they’d run away in terror, thus sparing the houses dwellers from the ravages of dark entities.
When the Irish immigrated to America they brought this Halloween tradition with them. However, they could not find many turnips to carve into jack o’lanterns, but they did find an abundance of pumpkins. Pumpkins have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever since. That’s how the tradition of putting the carved creations on front porches began.
During pumpkin season we also hear about farmers growing extraordinary-sized gourds. Growing big pumpkins is a big-time, serious hobby. Top prize money for the biggest giant pumpkin is as much as $25,000 at fall festivals.
For less ambitious pumpkin lovers, it’s good to know that 80% of the pumpkin supply is in the United States. So do your part to help out the economy and go and get yours. Carve them up! Bake them up! Eat them up! It’s pumpkin season!