The Great Pumpkin

Perhaps there is no greater symbol of harvest festivities and autumn holidays than that of the great pumpkin. First introduced as a highly nutritional food and medicinal source to the early-American settlers by their Native American neighbors, the use of the pumpkin quickly evolved to everything from early renditions of pumpkin “pie” (custard) to pumpkin beer, templates for haircuts (thus some New Englanders were known as “pumpkinheads”), and Jack-o-lanterns.

While there are four basic species of pumpkins, there are dozens of variations and each of them serve a specific purpose in food preparation, carving, and/or display. Traditionally, we are all familiar with the typical, Connecticut Field or Howden pumpkins that are often used for carving and decoration and these are what we utilize here at our home to brighten our fall celebration.

There are many ways you can use a pumpkin to bring a natural feel to your autumn décor. If you have children, then carving or painting your pumpkins may be the choice for you (as always, when carving, be sure to provide the appropriate adult supervision) as it provides an enjoyable way for you to teach and engage your child about early American history and pumpkins in general. You may even opt to decorate a pumpkin to give away as a gift to a friend or a teacher.

Incorporating an un-carved pumpkin into a natural setting can also be a great and simple way to bring the flair of autumn to your home. Using pumpkins among fall table settings, on the fireplace mantle, or among a few bales of hay, colorful leaves, some smaller gourds, flowers (such as yellow, orange, or maroon mums), dried corn stalks, and of course, a scarecrow, are just a few creative ways to make this time of year a festive occasion.

Happy Autumn!

©Copyright 2014 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

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