It’s that time of year when deeply ingrained winter festivals get taken over by consumerism and people argue about whose tradition is more authentic. I could get into the old pumpkins versus neeps (turnip, swedes etc) debate. I grew up firmly in the turnip tradition and we went ‘guising’ at Halloween, ‘trick or treating’ not having reached northern Scotland in those days. But since my assistant gardener arrived to transform our Halloweens, the annual traditions in our house took on a new and more elaborate form. I discovered that pumpkins are infinitely easier to carve than turnips. We’ve had them every year for his birthday, along with the odd turnip and an assortment of other carved fruit and vegetables: apples, oranges..
Mostly not grown in the garden apart from the year that we had a sweet little squash that appeared, self-seeded in the tomato bed:
We’ve had pumpkin table cloths, chocolate pumpkins, Harry Potter pumpkins, papier mache pumpkins – very easy to make using a balloon as a mold but taking days to dry – and the trick was to use a flashing bike light for a candle. One year I made a pumpkin cake:
.. made with pumpkins of course. And this year we didn’t have a pumpkin at all, what with our assistant gardener moving away, and other things invading our Halloween traditions …
…. but a little detour to southern parts (well northern for some) and I discovered that the pumpkins were out in force without parental help:
The point really is to invent your own traditions, make your own pumpkins out of whatever comes to hand and adapt as your life changes..
Happy birthday assistant gardener!