Pumpkins (or Jack o' Lanterns) are such a big part of Samhain (sow-hin), Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving/harvest celebrations. Originally the Celts carved and lit turnips in Ireland and Britain, there being no pumpkins to be had, as pumpkins are considered to be indigenous to the Americas. I suspect that the European settlers, enjoying pumpkins in the New World, sent back seeds to be cultivated in Europe. Because we read that Cinderella's coach was created from a pumpkin and Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, kept his wife in a pumpkin shell in Mother Goose. The pumpkin would certainly help in dating those fairy tales and nursery rhymes...but perhaps not. The stories might be much older and were altered over time. It is a fantastic chase to uncover older and older versions of fairy tales and to try to decipher the old nursery rhymes - like the one above!
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Folklore & Magic Archives