Over the last few years I have noticed more and more carved pumpkins outside people’s houses on Halloween. Have you ever wondered, like me, why people carve pumpkins at Halloween? What do these orange vegetables have to do with warding off evil spirits?
Halloween is said to originate from a Celtic festival called Samhain which was held to celebrate the end of the harvest season and when stocking up for the coming winter took place. They held the festival to coincide with October 31st, which was believed to be the day when the world of the living and the dead overlapped. The souls of the dead were believed to come to life on this day and cause all sorts of problems. So, where do carved pumpkins fit in to this?
Known as Jack O’Lanterns, the tradition of celebrating with these creatively carved veg appears to have originated from Ireland. Irish folk tales talk about a man named ‘Stingy Jack’ who appears to have tricked the devil in to pretending to be a coin so he could pay for some drinks, which promptly put in his wallet instead of buying a drink. Unbeknownst to the devil Jack had already placed a cross in his wallet and the poor devil ended up next to the cross and could not return to his original devil form. Jack appears to have played other tricks on the devil too.
Eventually Jack made a pact with the devil in which the devil would not take his soul when he died. However, the devil was unhappy at Jack’s trickery and God was also unhappy with Jack so he was barred from both heaven and hell when he died. Instead he was forced to carve out a turnip, light it and wandered the earth looking for a resting place.
So, over time the turnip has become a pumpkin instead. A lot more interesting than seeing carved turnips, or potatoes in gardens!
Apples are also connected to Halloween where apple bobbing has become a traditional party game. However, I am concentrating on the celebration of ‘Apple Day’ which is held on October 21st. It is a relatively new tradition having been started in 1990 as an attempt to create a calendar custom.
Apple day has become an event in many villages and markets across Britain and is seen a metaphor for the loss of variety in things such as landscape, ecology and place.
The first Apple Day celebration was held in Covent Garden and has since grown to be a nation wide event which seems to be growing in popularity and stature each year. So, look at for an Apple day celebration near you next year, I certainly will be.
If you would like to know more about Apple Day check out this link http://www.england-in-particular.info/cg/index.html
Lastly for this blog I also randomly discovered that October is the beginning of English Pudding Season. Sadly I unable to find much out about pudding season and what the celebrations entail (apart from obviously eating puddings!). So, instead of writing about it I have decided to include some links to some yummy looking Pumpkin/Apple related puddings! If anyone knows anything about English pudding season I would love to hear from you as I am intrigued to find out if there is more to it than just eating puddings!
My favourite pudding/desert, in case you are interested is cheesecake! What’s yours?