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Fun Facts & History

Below is an abundance of fun information about pumpkins; History of the Jack O'Lantern, the History of Pumpkin Carving,  Pumpkin Facts, even some World Record Pumpkins, along with some unique pumpkin photos.  Enjoy!

 

History of the Jack O'Lantern:

The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin. The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.

Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".

On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish.


 

History of Pumpkin Carving:

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 end". It was the end of the Celtic year, starting at sundown on October 31st and going through to sundown November 1st. It was a night to honor loved ones that had passed on since the veil between their realm and ours is at it's thinnest on that night.

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. When European settlers, particularly the Irish, arrived in America 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!

Pumpkins 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 "isqoutm, or isquotersquash." 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.


 

Did you know:

Did you know that a pumpkin is really a squash?
Yes, it is!  It's  a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.

Did you Know that pumpkins are grown all over the world?
Yes, in fact six of the seven continents can grow pumpkins!  Antarctica is the only continent that they won't grow in.  Pumpkins even grow in Alaska!

Did you know that the "pumpkin capital" of the world is Morton, Illinois?
Yes, this self proclaimed pumpkin capital is where you'll find the home of the Libby corporation's pumpkin industry.

And did you know that the Irish brought this tradition of pumpkin carving to America?
The tradition originally started with the carving of turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty and they were much easier to carve for their ancient holiday.


 

Pumpkin Fun Facts:

● Pumpkins originated in Central America.

● The name pumpkin originated from "pepon" – the Greek word for "large melon."

● Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.

● Pumpkins are fruit.

● Pumpkin flowers are edible.

● Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack.

● Pumpkins are used to make soups, pies and breads.

● Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.

● Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October. 

● The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

● In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.

● Colonists sliced off pumpkin tips; removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.

● Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

● The largest "official" pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,340 pounds.

● The largest "unofficial" pumpkin ever grown weighed 1'458 pounds, but was not awarded due to damage.

● The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin.

● Pumpkins are 90 percent water.

● Eighty percent of the pumpkins supply in the United States is available in October.

● Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats.

● Native Americans called pumpkins "isqoutm, or isquotersquash."

● Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine

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