Called “pompions” by the first European colonists, pumpkins were a food essential to winter survival – and they were grown in many more varieties than they typically are today. The custom of carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns was introduced to American culture by Irish immigrants, influencing our cultural landscape to this day. Traditionally carved from root vegetables, including turnips and potatoes, new hybrids of pumpkins are grown specifically for carving.
There are so many different uses for pumpkins! One of America’s oldest native crops, modern day uses include carving as ornaments for Halloween, prepared as pies, and highlighted as a main attraction in agricultural fairs (largest pumpkin contests) and fall festivals (pumpkin roll & pumpkin games). Needless to say, pumpkins are an integrated part of our fall traditions in Western Massachusetts.
While Colonial Americans did not celebrate Halloween, their interest in pumpkins was food-based rather than a holiday decoration. Support a farm to table interest by incorporating fresh pumpkin into your culinary adventures!
Think About This: Pumpkins and a Sense of Place