Bay Area Bloggers
Hewn & Hammered
Jill's Definition of Weblog
Le Blaugue à Beleg
The Year of Coffee Blog
Tag Cloud: 50 Tags
Tag Cloud: 125 Tags
Tag Cloud: 250 Tags
No, this is not really about the festival that ushers in November, the festival that begins in the middle of night on Sunday morning before the month begins, when Daylight Saving Time ceases, and ends the morning after Election Day in the US, when everybody's pumpkin has been smashed. The festival, variously called Samhain, All Hallows Evening, Hallowe'en, El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, and the most macabre Guy Fawkes Day began with the pre-Christian Celts, Aztecs, and others, confronting the death of the summer and greeting their own dead, benign and malignant. Yes, we all know about ghosts, goblins, trickery, disguise, and Stingy Jack of the Lantern, who fooled the Devil and had to carry the Devil's embers around in a turnip. That festival. But as I said, this is not about the festival.
What this is about is a giant round orange-colored squash called a calabash, more frequently called a pumpkin, which brings joy, good nutrition (Vitamin A), and good cheer. This fruit, normally treated as a vegetable, was once all-American, that is a native of the Western Hemisphere, but is now grown everywhere. There is a delicious Japanese version called Kabocha (calabash?), and Irish websites tell me that Stingy Jack's turnip has been replaced with a Jack O'Lantern (pumpkin) even in Ireland, the birthplace of the US version of the festival. The pumpkin is the original treat of the season.
Being big (the world record as of Oct 5, 2005 was 1,469 lbs. which converts, appropriately enough, to 666 kilos), loaded with seeds, and round like a pregnant woman's belly, the pumpkin is obviously a fertility symbol, which most likely translates, in the iconography of the USA, as a productivity symbol (you know how we love Getting Things Done.) No less of an American icon as Charlie Brown, the creation of cartoonist Charles Schultz, saw the Great Pumpkin as the ultimate bearer of gifts, not Santa Claus. As for the people of Mexico, they reportedly greet each other on the Day of the Dead with "Buenas noches calabaza", meaning "Good evening, Pumpkin." Those of you who remember the Italian-American song-and-dance man and comedian Jimmy Durante will remember that he ended every performance with a haunting and mysterious salutation. Did he know anything about the Mexican Day of the Dead? Was he addressing a loved one of his own, his first wife perhaps? There is at least one alternative explanation, of course, but even as I child it moved me to see the old man on black-and-white television, as he signed off, "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."| Technorati Tags: Pumpkin Halloween Celt November
Copyright ©2004-2005 Jonathan David Leavitt