Carving pumpkins is a pastime we have all taken part in with our children. The combination of very sharp knives and little fingers is scary enough, coupled with naked candle flames, but we want to add stories of ghosts and ghouls to scare the little sweethearts completely.
Carving the Jack of the Lantern, according to Irish Folktales, using turnips or potatoes was to scare away evil spirits from your home, by placing them in the window, complete with a burning candle inside.
The Irish, apparently took the tradition to America, but discovered that the surfeit of pumpkins around that time of year, proved a better choice to carve. Also, apart from Pumpkin Pie or Soup both of which are pretty horrendous, nothing else could be done with the huge orange fruit.
One year, we decided to grow our own pumpkin, we tended it, watered it, generally spoilt it rotten, we even gave it a chair to rest on because it was growing over the top of our raised bed. It grew, and it grew and then it grew some more. It was certainly the biggest pumpkin we had ever seen, but it never turned orange. Instead, it stayed a pale yellow, with hints of beige, not a colour seen in a Farrow and Ball catalogue. Despite its anaemic appearance, we were incredibly proud of Peter, a name given to him by our Granddaughter. Finally, when October 31st loomed, we harvested Peter, and strapped him safely into a seat in the car and transported him 50 miles to Essex to proudly present him to grandchild.
Two weeks later when we visited again, Peter had been left outside their front door, not carved but gradually decaying from the inside out, not even eaten by local wildlife.
We have never grown a pumpkin again.