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Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns

  • Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns

Pumpkins, Jack-O-Lanters, and Halloween

October, an exciting time of the year.  The weather is getting cooler, the trees are scattering their leaves of yellow, orange, and red among the hills and valleys, the sunsets are spectacular, and another season is here – Pumpkin Season.

Pumpkins – One of the Major Crops Produced in Mountains of NC

Pumpkins are an annual product grown in the High Country of the North Carolina Mountains.  They are sold to grocery stores, farmers markets, big-box stores, cities for decoration and everyone who sells or desires this product during the fall season.

From mid-September through November, farmers markets, farmstands and orchards in western North Carolina come alive with gourds of every shape, size, and color.  In the peak of the North Carolina pumpkin season, you will find umber-hued vegetables in bins at about any market or roadside stand you visit.  These are not just any pumpkins, though; they are the region’s famous sugar pumpkins which are grown exclusively in our area and prized for their sweet flavor.  With them come other varieties like white, blue, yellow, and orange pumpkins that are locally grown but available elsewhere only as a secondary crop on farms that primarily grow them for carving.

As you enjoy the flavors of fall, do not forget to celebrate the season itself.  From October through early December, you will find seasonal events galore in the mountains.  Pumpkin festivals, harvest fairs and other seasonal celebrations are great ways to enjoy the fall weather with friends and family.  You can also participate in Halloween festivities if you are not ready to give up the spooky vibe just yet; In and around Ashe County, the month of October alone is filled with plenty of scare-worthy activities and events.

Pumpkins, Jack-O-Lanterns and Halloween

The jack-o’-lantern is a classic Halloween decoration that has been around for centuries.  It is traditionally made by hollowing out a pumpkin, carving a scary or funny face into the front, and then placing a candle inside.  While there are a few theories as to where the jack-o’-lantern originated, the most widely accepted one is that it began in Ireland as an Irish Thanksgiving tradition.  During the month of November, Ireland is extremely rainy, so there are very few places where a fire can be lit.  To make the best of this situation and not disappoint their Irish ancestors, modern-day Halloween celebrators make a jack-o’-lantern with a candle inside to give the appearance of a fire.

Today, the Jack-O-Lantern is a sign of Halloween while Thanksgiving, the pumpkin truly is a sign of a sweet pumpkin pie.   
Halloween is widely considered to be the creepiest holiday of the year and has been for centuries.  While the reasons behind this are varied, the simplest explanation is that Halloween takes place during the spookiest time of year.  Halloween is celebrated on October 31st, which is the day when the weather begins to get cooler, and leaves begin to fall from trees.

The night of Halloween also often has lower visibility due to shorter days and cloudier skies.  These factors create a perfect environment for creepy events to unfold.  The date of Halloween also has a bizarre and dark history.  The origins of Halloween can be traced to a Celtic festival called Samhain, which was believed to be a night when spirits from the underworld could cross into our world.  This eerie festival celebrated on October 31st and has since transformed into the ghoulish holiday we know as Halloween.

Why a costume on Halloween?

For centuries people have celebrated Halloween with the tradition of wearing a costume to be incognito on Halloween night.  It is believed the Halloween festival was held in honor of the goddess of fruits and flowers.  During this festival, people would dress in their costumes and travel from house to house collecting and giving gifts to thank the gods for a successful harvest season.  It is said, afterwards there would be a masquerade ball, which was a popular social event, and the costumes were worn to conceal the wearer’s identity.

Trick- or- Treat

It is common knowledge that trick-or-treaters are given candy on Halloween.  But how did this tradition come to be?  Some say that the tradition of giving treats on Halloween dates to the Middle Ages when people would knock on their neighbors’ doors and ask for treats in exchange for praying for their neighbors’ health during the upcoming year.  Others believe that it was first celebrated in the early 1900s in the United States to get kids to go out and collect money for charities.  Whatever the reason for exchanging treats on this day may be, there is no denying that Halloween is now synonymous with candy.

Halloween on the Streets of West Jefferson

The West Jefferson Business Association is inviting ghosts and goblins from Ashe County to come downtown West Jefferson to celebrate their annual Halloween event of treats on the streets.  Businesses will be handing out treats to the little ghost and goblins from 3-5 pm on October 31.

At the Farmers Market on the Back Street, the West Jefferson Fire Department and Divine Hope Baptist Church and Ashe Memorial Hospital will also be handing out treats from 3-5pm. 

The West Jefferson Baptist Church invites ghosts and goblins to stick around for their annual “Trunk or Treat” beginning at 5:30 pm, October 31st.

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