Monday, November 3, 2014

Did the Colonists go Trick-or-Treating and why do people carve pumpkins?

So among a HOST of other random Halloween related questions, were these: Did the Colonists go Trick-or-Treating and why do people carve pumpkins?

No. The Colonists did not go trick or treating. And I wasn't quite sure about the pumpkin question, so we googled it. In case you were also wondering, here's the low down from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.


Colonial Americans didn't celebrate Halloween. They didn't have jack-o’-lanterns either, or trick or treat, or costumes, or candy as we know it. What they had were pumpkins— large and small, round and oval, warty and smooth, squat and misshapen, orange, yellow, and green, far more varieties of the fruit than we see today, all of which they consumed in far greater quantities than we do today.
As America once again decorates its porches with grimacing pumpkins and braces for the annual onslaught of princesses and caped crusaders, one can’t help wondering what our forebears would have thought of these Halloween rituals. It seems likely that Indians and colonists alike would have been puzzled by the candlelit faces, aghast at the waste of good food, and appalled when they saw the smashed remains littering the streets.
In their day, the pumpkin, or pompion as it was called, got more respect. An important food source, pumpkins were crucial to their survival through the hungry winter months.
Though Halloween was unknown in early America, the established Church of England did take note of All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, on November 1. All Hallows’ Evening, corrupted to Halloween, fell on the preceding night, October 31, but it was not an occasion for costumed children to rap colonial door knockers, and no jack-o’-lanterns flickered from colonial windows.
The origins of Halloween date back two millennia to the Celtic harvest festival Samhain, celebrated in November at the beginning of the Celtic New Year, when the souls of the dead were said to return to earth. Beliefs and celebrations varied from place to place, but often involved bonfires, burning sacrifices, and costumes, as people marked another autumn’s reaping and honored the dead. Pumpkins were unknown in Europe at this early date, but traditions included hollowing out gourds to make lanterns to light the way at night or, some said, to ward off evil spirits that roamed the countryside on All Hallows’ Eve. Irish immigrants brought Celtic traditions to America in the nineteenth century, where they found the pumpkins larger than gourds and better for carving. So, in the New World, their jack-o’-lanterns were made from pumpkins instead.
So there ya have it. All of your Colonial pumpkin questions answered. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. I don't like evil spirits and ghosts and blood and guts, and I don't like being scared. That being said, I do like spending time with our family, and I enjoy going for a family neighborhood stroll. 

Every year, just like last year and the year before, all the way back to when Bella was just a year old, we spend Halloween at Bryan's parent's house. We have dinner, sometimes carve pumpkins, and then get the kids dressed up. We parade them out to the hill in the backyard and take their pictures, and then we venture out for family Trick or Treating. It's a fun little event full of neighborhood catching up and candy stocking up. Good grief! The amount of candy we receive in the span of ten houses is crazy!






This year my children were dressed as American Colonists. For Classical Conversations, we have a day called "Fall into History", which includes dressing up a character from history, and giving a presentation about their character. So these costumes were a "two birds with one stone" kinda thing. 



Little Elise was dressed as Princess Belle, so cute! 
After pictures on the hill, we hit the road!



Even Princess Cupcake went with us. She did have her costume on, but kept wiggling out of it.

I can't remember the last Halloween that it was so chilly. Usually the kids are sweating in their costumes, and we are being bitten by mosquitoes. This year was such a beautiful and cool change. 

  
 Have a great week friends.
Woof Woof.

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