Pumpkins in America

Native American Indians used pumpkins as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. People have been making Jack O’Lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The original Jack O’Lantern tradition involves Irish myths such as the legend of Stingy Jack. Since pumpkins did not then exist outside of North America, ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow’s Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits. In England and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into (for example) turnips, potatoes, gourds and beets. Immigrants from these countries brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, made perfect Jack O’Lanterns. And now, at the end of October, homes all across America display the pumpkin in various ways.


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