Happy Saturday everyone! Seeing as today is Halloween, this week’s blog is fitting.
As a variety of winter squash, pumpkins are native to the New World, and Native American tribes were growing the “Connecticut Field” variety when settlers arrived. We grow the same kind now for Jack-o’-lanterns, but back then they used every part of the pumpkin for a range of purposes, including a good source of food. Strips of the pumpkin were roasted over the fire and could be stored to help them last through the long, cold North American winters. The flesh of the pumpkin, which is sweet, they ate roasted, baked, parched, boiled and dried, as well as the seeds for sustenance and medicine.
A number of theories for the origins of Jack-o’-lanterns are quite interesting. Turnips and potatoes were used early on by the Scottish and Irish to carve out the very well-known decoration we associate with Halloween. The English used beets, and to illuminate them they would light a piece of coal, that was set inside, on fire and this would do the trick. After arriving in North America, the Europeans discovered that pumpkins were easy to carve and this is thought to be the reason that pumpkins are now the classic vegetable used as our primary Jack-o’-lantern shell.
Have a safe and great upcoming week!