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Interesting Facts About Pumpkins and Halloween

  • Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C.
  • A pumpkin is really a squash. It is a member of the Cucurbita family.
  • Early references to pumpkins go back several hundred years. They were called “pompions” (from the Greek word ‘pepon’, meaning “cooked by the sun”).
  • “Pumpkin” first appeared in the 17th century when the Cinderella fairy tale was written.
  • American Indian tribes grew pumpkins for food and long before the discovery of corn, relied on pumpkins to get them through long winters.
  • When white settlers arrived in the new world, they saw the pumpkins grown by the Indians and pumpkin soon became a staple in their diets.
  • A Pilgrim described the hardships of the New World as follows (1630):
  • “For pottage and puddings and custard and pies,
     Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies:
     We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
     If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.”
  • Columbus carried pumpkin seeds on his return trips to Europe.
  • Pumpkins are grown all over the world on six of the seven continents. Antarctica is the exception.
  • The self proclaimed “Pumpkin Capital of the World” is Morton, Illinois where Libby has it’s pumpkin plant.
  • Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A and potassium and are high in fiber.
  • Throughout history, the pumpkin has been used for many medicinal reasons:
  • They were once touted as a cure for freckles.
  • They were used as a remedy for snakebites.
  • Pumpkin seeds help avoid prostrate cancer in men.
  • And from www.pumpkinnook.com,
    “Pumpkins have been examined, studied and literally dissected more than any other object. Aside from frogs in Biology class, we can’t think of any other item that has been more thoroughly examined in the classroom, or at home, for that matter.”
  • As for jack-o-laterns and Halloween?
    The origin of Halloween dates back at least 3,000 years to the Celtic celebration of Samhain. This festival was held starting at sundown on October 31st and lasted until sundown on November 1st.
  • On this night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones and 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.
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