October 26th is National Pumpkin Day, a day to celebrate the popular fruit that has served as a messenger of the Autumn harvest for centuries. Pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America but today they are grown across the globe, on every continent except Antarctica. Approximately 1.5 billion pounds are grown in the U.S. each year, where they serve as symbols of the Fall holidays and as a versatile food source. From the flowers to the seeds, most parts of a pumpkin are edible and can be baked, boiled, steamed, or roasted into a variety of delicious recipes. And they’re not only tasty — they’re also nutritious, with some studies suggesting that they have anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory benefits! Whether your favorite pumpkin is your own painstakingly carved jack-o-lantern, the 1,810 lb record breaker grown by a Wisconsin farmer, or the Great Pumpkin from Peanuts, take a moment today to honor the world’s largest fruit.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I dislike cold weather and would rather spend chilly days hibernating under my covers, so the ghoulishly fun holiday has often felt like the last great celebration before the darkness of Winter descends. And really, October can be an unpredictable time of year in Northern Virginia, which makes it even more exciting. I can recall many Halloweens trick-or-treating as a child while shivering under my costume, and others when there was a warm breeze in the air. Each year, in conjunction with costume planning and candy purchasing, my mom and I would settle on the front porch to carve a large pumpkin or two. I always enjoyed this messy activity and grew to love the sweet smell of the greasy pumpkin seeds. It’s funny to recall how the “carving” fads changed over the years: when I was very young we carved our pumpkins all the way through but later pumpkin painting and sculpting became popular. Thinking back on the Hallow’s Eves of my childhood makes me a little sad that we don’t get trick-or-treaters where we live in semi-rural Stafford.
But even without the promise of costumed children crazed by an unlimited sugar supply, Chris and I decided to purchase a pumpkin in honor of National Pumpkin Day and the impending Fall holidays. While I waited to pick Chris up after work I went to one of the local grocery stores that had a nice selection of pumpkins and gourds and found a nice round specimen for a fantastic price. I had a little time to spare so I decided to run a few more errands while the pumpkin got acquainted with the trunk in my little blue hatchback.