Evolution of Decorative Pumpkins

Published by

Pumpkin Patch at Parlee FarmsDecorating pumpkins is an autumn staple. In fact, they are always associated with Halloween, and are one of the most recognizable symbols of this holiday. Although they are popular throughout the world, decorating pumpkins had a very distinct origin. Here’s more information about how the tradition of decorating pumpkins came to be:

Irish Legend About Stingy Jack

The Irish people are given the credit for inventing the tradition of decorating pumpkins. As legend has it, a man named Stingy Jack played a trick on the devil in order to make money. This trick had repercussion because when Jack died, not only did he not obtain entrance to Heaven, but the Devil wouldn’t let him into Hell, either. Instead, he was sentenced to wander the Earth for eternity.

The tradition of carving scary faces into vegetables began with this story. The goal was to carve images that were scary enough to scare Stingy Jack away. The Irish began carving the faces into turnips, and eventually the tradition continued with pumpkins.

Carving Pumpkins During Samhain

Eventually, the tradition of carving scary faces into pumpkins continued through Samhain, which took place on November 1st and was a celebration that occurred in Britain and Ireland that marked the end of summer. Back then, people believed that the souls of people who died in the previous year would wander the earth. Wanting to feel proactive, people started carving faces in pumpkins and other cold-weather vegetables to keep the souls away.

As Catholicism started to take over the religious beliefs, the church deemed November 1 to be All Saint’s Day, and also All Hallow’s Eve. Many of the old traditions associated with Samhain remained, such as carving pumpkins and wearing costumes. People started carving pumpkins as part of the All Saint’s Day celebrations.

Influence of Halloween Spreads

Eventually, the traditions of Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve (All Saint’s Day), spread beyond Britain and Ireland. Now, Halloween is a unique holiday in the United States, associated with scares, frights, and candy. The tradition of Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, began in the United States with the early colonists, who started having parties to celebrate.

When Irish immigrants came to the United States, they also brought their traditions with them, which involved dressing in disguises and pulling pranks. Trick-or-treating for candy eventually evolved from this. Both the British colonists and Irish immigrants also carved pumpkins as part of this time of year, and eventually the tradition spread to others in the United States. Now, the carved pumpkin is a universal decoration to represent Halloween and the fall season in general.

October is Pumpkin Season at Parlee Farms. To learn more about pumpkins, consider visiting one of our other articles:


Categorized in:

This post was written by Parlee Farms