Is there any food source more versatile than the pumpkin? Pumpkins are used in a variety of dishes (anything better than pumpkin pie?) and the main Icon for Halloween.
The word pumpkin comes from the Greek pepõn for a large melon. The English termed it pumpion or pompion. This term dates back to 1547, yet it did not make an appearance in print until 1647.
The pumpkin was one of the many foods used by the Native American Indians in the new world and was a welcome discovery by the Pilgrims. The Indians pounded strips of pumpkin flat, dried them, and wove them into mats for trading. They also dried pumpkin for food. The new Americans heartily embraced the sweet, multi-purpose fruit which became a traditional Thanksgiving food. The colonists used pumpkin not only as a side dish and dessert, but also in soups and even made beer of it.
The origin of Halloween dates back 2000 years ago to the Celtic celebration of the dead. A Celtic festival was held on November 1, the first day of the celtic New Year, honoring the Samhain, the Lord of the Dead. Celtic ritual believed that the souls of the dead returned on the evening before November 1. The celebration included burning sacrifices and costumes. These early events began as both a celebration of the harvest, and to honor dead ancestors.
This Celtic ritual spread throughout Europe in the seventh century. It began with “All Hallows Eve”, the “Night of the Dead”. It is immediately followed by “All Souls Day”, a christian holy day.
The first lighted fruit , were carved out of gourds and turnips. Pumpkins came from North America, and had not yet made their way to Europe. European custom also included carving scary faces into the gourds and placing embers inside to light them. This was believed to ward of evil spirits, especially spirits who roamed the streets and countryside during All Hallows Eve.
Halloween history in America, was very much influenced by Irish immigrants. The Irish brought the tradition of carving turnips and even potatoes with them to America. They quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve.
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