Monday 31 October 2011

Potato to Pumpkin

I wonder how many tons of these orange Cucurbitaceae members will have been sold over the past couple of weeks? We have the Story of Stingy Jack to thank for the annual popularity of the pumpkin although it actually all began with a humble turnip.

When our Irish neighbours emigrated to America during the famine years, they took with them their story of Stingy Jack, along with the associated tradition of carving a turnip lantern. With the availability of the 'easy carve' American pumpkin it wasn't long before they opted to use these for lanterns instead. This updated tradition has now sailed back across the Atlantic and seems to have been adopted here on a big scale over the past twenty years or so.

Consumerism has sadly crept in, as with all other commercially hijacked annual traditions, and now pumpkins are big business. Few of these vegetables will actually be eaten, with most suffering the fate of slowly rotting on doorsteps.

Whilst on the subject of rotting vegetables it neatly brings us back full circle, and to one final question.
If the Irish potato harvest hadn't rotted and failed with the blight, would we have the tradition of the pumpkin lantern, in the form it is, now?

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