Pumpkins have historically been associated with Hallowe'en and for centuries, pumpkin carving has been a ritual aspect of the holiday in many countries.
There are many varieties of pumpkin - from tiny to giant - some orange, some striped, some green and many edible. The pumpkin is a member of the cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, melons and other gourds and squashes. This year we have grown two types of pumpkin, as well as butternut squash.
The tradition of carving pumpkins is believed to originate from the Irish legend of Jack O'Lantern. Jack was an Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the devil wanted him. Rejected by both, after his death, Jack wandered the world endlessly, looking for a place to rest, accompanied only by the warmth and light of a single candle in a rotten turnip. The 'Jack O'Lantern' became the symbol of a damned and restless soul.
Irish children used to carve their Jack O'Lanterns from turnips or potatoes but when hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants made their way to North America in the mid-1800s, they found the prolific pumpkins which grew there to be a suitable replacement for their traditional vegetable lanterns. Since then, the popularity of pumpkin carving to celebrate Hallowe'en has spread to many other parts of the world.