Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin ramblings

When I was a kid we grew our own pumpkins, carefully watching over them as the got plumper and rounded , or long and heavy bottomed, the rounder ones made better pies so the elongated ones were for Jack-o-lanterns.
Some years the frosts came early and the pumpkins that were to end up as Jack-o-lanterns were brought in doors to finish ripening in the corner of the unused room upstairs, next to the carefully stored "longkeeper" tomatoes.
At last the night cam when after the dinner dishes were all washed and the kitchen table was covered with newspaper, the largest butcher knife was brought out, it was time to carve the pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns. A huge spoon was used to scrape out the seeds and "guts", a job I relished, but my sister hated.
First my father cut out the lid, then we scraped them clean, out hands were covered with the sticky, fresh smelling seeds and innards. Then we were allowed to cut in the faces with smaller knives. we carried our creations out to the front porch and put candles in then, then walked down to street to admire our work from a distance.

My son preferred his pumpkins with painted faces, sometimes he can be too sensible. But just the same he looked forward to them. Painted pumpkins last longer, and even if you are only three you can do the decorating yourself.
Nathanial Hawthorn is credited with the first mention of using a pumpkin as a lantern,in his 1837
story, "Feathertop", about a scarecrow who was bewitched and appeared to be a real man.
The Jack-o-lantern became associated with Halloween during the Civil War Era, but as late as the early 1900's it was still a part of h Thanksgiving decor

The Celts probably had no idea what a pumpkin was, as pumpkins were a crop found mainly in the Americas. but they did have turnips,mangles and other root vegetable. there is no record of them carving faces into them, hollowing out a rutabaga would be quite a chore, just cutting up and uncooked one is not a easy task. But the story of Jack, who was later called Jack of the Lantern,a story sometimes used to scare a misbehaving child. is credited with the origin of our favorite pumpkinhead.

The Story of Stingy Jack
Legend has it that, long ago, there lived a mean and greedy man named Jack who liked to steal and play tricks on everyone. One day, the Devil appeared before him and said it was time for him to collect Jack's soul. Instead of going with him, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing a tree to reach a piece of fruit, and then carved a cross into the trunk when the Devil wasn't looking! Since the Devil was not allowed to pass the cross he could not get down from the tree without Jack's help, something Jack wouldn't offer until the Devil promised that he would leave Jack's soul alone.

When Jack died years later, he was told by God that he wasn't allowed into Heaven because he had been too mean and greedy when he was alive. Since the Devil kept his promise and would not take Jack's soul into Hell either, Jack was stuck in the darkness between the two. When he asked the Devil how he would be able to see, the Devil tossed Jack a burning ember that Jack kept safe in a hollowed out turnip (his "lantern") before beginning his journey to find a final resting place.~~WHYZZ

I love to carve pumpkins. Nothing fancy, I like mine plain, classic if you will.

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Silent Sunday~~~Hedgehog Picnic

thanks Coleman