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Pumpkin guts

It took until this afternoon to realize that the time left before Halloween was really waning (I have yet to finish sewing Calvin's costume), so we made tonight pumpkin carving night.  There's not a whole lot to say about the occassion;  Calvin was not nearly as fascinated as he was last year, although he did thoroughly enjoy the activity and even, at one point, tried to eat the guts (the kid's reasoning is sound - we've been telling him for weeks now that pumpkins are, in fact, a kind of squash).  And individuality is starting to make a play so that when we wanted to carve the small pumpkin (universally known in our family as Calvin's pumpkin) to look like a cat he made it painfully clear that it should be carved as a funny face.  No problem.  And since our text and our pictures are spacially disparate, we bring you part two of our once yearly Halloween educational series (for part one, a look at Halloween's roots, click here), a look at the origin of pumpkins.  Yes, the pumpkin you just carved probably came from the farm down the road, but from where did we get this odd tradition?  As with Halloween's origins, we have the Irish to thank.  During their festival of Samhain (pronounced SAW in) they believed that the barrier between the dead and living worlds was blurred.  They also believed that light kept the evil spirits at bay and hallowed out their harvested turnips to make lanterns.  Later, after the festival was adopted by the Christians and the tradition brought to America by the tides of immigration, the vegetable of choice became the more easily acquired pumpkin.  The Irish also gave the carved vegetable a separate name - the Jack-o-lantern.  As with our bit last year, this is a major over-simplification of the facts, but to honor the roots of this festive activity we precede our carving artistry with hearty servings of Irish Boiled Dinner.  Maybe next year we'll cap the evening with a jig.

For more pictures visit the new Halloween 2008 photo album.

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