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The American origins of the Jack o’ Lantern

October 31

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 31 of October, repeating indefinitely

Jack o’ lanterns as we know them today have American origins. Pumpkins are native to the Americas (first grown in Central America) so the first jack o’ lanterns carved in Europe was made with turnips or other similar root vegetables. 🥔🍠🥔

Plentiful in America, pumpkins were a valuable source of food for early colonists in New England, as evidenced by this poem from c. 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.”

Pumpkins were such a staple in New England that inhabitants were nicknamed “pumpkin-heads” or “pumpkins.” Later in the 1800s, prominent newspaperman, Horace Greeley was described as “a genuine product of New England soil,” part of “the nasal, angular, psalm-singing, pumpkin-growing generation.”

Nowadays, however, most of the nation’s pumpkins come from the South and Midwest. 🎃 🎃 🎃

That’s my pumpkin, John George Brown, 1874


October 31
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