History of Pumpkin Carving

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin carving is a fun experience for the whole family, why not make this year a learning opportunity as well? Everyone knows it’s a time old tradition to carve pumpkins on Halloween but not many people know the history behind Halloween, pumpkins and why we carve them. A big thanks to Danielle DuChamp’s blog post for our background research.

Samhain, meaning “summer’s end,” is the name of the original Celtic holiday from which Halloween developed. It marked the end of the Celtic year, and was used as a night to honor the dead. It was believed that this night was the time when the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest and therefore easier to communicate with the dead.

Long ago the Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O’Lantern to America but unlike the pumpkins used today the original Jack O’Lanterns were made of everything from turnips to potatoes. People would put lit gourds, turnips and eventually pumpkins on their porches to welcome deceased loved ones and act as protection from evil spirits. The change from gourds and turnips to pumpkins occurred when the European settlers arrived in America they found the native pumpkin, indigenous to the western hemisphere, to be the easiest to carve and it has been used ever since.

So if you’re in the mood to carve out a little piece of history, and you won’t have to go very far and you can support our local farmers. Don't forget to enter your carved creation in the St. Charles Pumpkin Carving Contest —  carve a pumpkin, send us the image and you can be the proud owner of an iPod shuffle.

Photo from Wikipedia.com

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