Thanks to DaveHax.com and YouTube for this informative video.
The History of Pumpkins
and Jack o Lanterns
Without a doubt the most recognizable symbol of Halloween is a pumpkin carved into a jack-o-lantern. To understand
the origins of how pumpkin carving began and what it really means we must first take a look at the holiday itself. How long
has Halloween been around? Have there always been pumpkins carved? Here are some answers!
For most of the general population it is known as Halloween and is a night for dressing up, telling
ghost stories, having spooky parties, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving. What most people don't know is that Halloween
is actually based on an ancient Celtic holiday known as Samhain (pronounced "sow wan"), which means "summer's
Celebrated for centuries by the Celts of
old, Witches and many other nature based religions, it is the most magical night of the year. It is the Witches' New Year,
and the Last Harvest. Although the religious significance of it has passed for the general public, Halloween is a "magical"
night for all!
On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches
and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of
coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles.
European settlers, particularly the Irish, arrived in American they found the native pumpkin to be larger, easier to carve
and seemed the perfect choice for jack-o-lanterns. Halloween didn't really catch on big in this country until the late
1800's and has been celebrated in so many ways ever since!
are indigenous to the western hemisphere and were completely unknown in Europe before the time of Columbus. In 1584, the French
explorer Jacques Cartier reported from the St. Lawrence region that he had found "gros melons", which was translated
into English as "ponpions," or pumpkins. In fact, pumpkins have been grown in America for over 5,000 years.
Native Americans called pumpkins "isquotersquash."
Finally, did you
know that pumpkins are not a vegetable - they are a fruit! Pumpkins, like gourds, and other varieties of squash are all members
of the Cucurbitacae family, which also includes cucumbers, gherkins, and melons?