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October 9, 2012 > Pat Kite's Garden: Pumpkin evening

Pat Kite's Garden: Pumpkin evening

The world is pumpkin orange. My "tuit" pumpkin seeds are still on the shelf. So, as usual, I am buying pumpkins for my porch, some for my grandkids. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. As a child, living in the smack-dab of California suburbia, nerdy little me was always festooned as a daring gypsy. Off we went, giggling, door-to-door with a zillion other children, the ghosts, fairies, princesses, supermen and villains. We collected bags of candy. But some wand made it all disappear after I brought it home. Amazing Halloween magic, hah.

The biggest pumpkin record is now 1818.5 pounds. Remember Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, who couldn't figure out what to do with his wife? So he put her in a pumpkin shell, and there, apparently, he kept her very well. With the winning pumpkin at almost a ton, hollowed out, it might make a very nice studio apartment.

There are all kinds of pumpkins. Some have fun names: Old-Timey Flat Pumpkin, Montana Jack, Lebanese Pumpkin, Long Pie Pumpkin, Speckled Hmong, Fairytale, Chinese Miniature White, Algonquian, Idaho Gem, Lady Godiva and Busch Olkurbis Naked Seed. There are pumpkins so small they fit in the palm of your hand, like Jack Be Little, and medium Jack-O'-Lantern, good scary-face carving size.

By the 1800s, the custom of dressing up and going door to door was a well-established Halloween custom in Ireland and Scotland. However the children only got a treat if they performed a song or recited a poem. Our stateside All Hallows Eve came along with immigrants, as have so many of our fun customs. Perhaps we should have Hallowe'en carolers too.

Do you realize that 65 percent of Americans decorate their homes and offices for Halloween? Or that Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of total sales?

Halloween is international, but sometimes under a different name or purpose. In China, the festival is known as Teng Chich. Both food and water are placed in front of departed family members. Lanterns are lit to light the paths of spirits as they travel the earth on "Halloween" night.

In Germany, some folk hide the kitchen knives. No harm should befall any returning spirits.

Spanish-speaking countries enjoy "El Dia de los Muertos," a joyous occasion commencing on October 31st evening, and fully official on November 2nd, "All Souls' Day." The dearly departed are honored during this time, as they are believed to return home on Halloween. Flowers, candy, candles, favorite foods are all part of the celebration.

So I put a flashlight or a safe candle in my porch pumpkins. I decorate myself, sort of silly, to answer the door bingle. And I do so love to see the shiny-eyed happy children dressed as heroes and villains, bunnies and butterflies. Trick or treat. And I get to eat some leftover, or sequestered, candy too.

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