Plant of the Week: Pumpkins, the Martyrs of Fall

Photo of Pumpkin Surrounded By Flowers
Image courtesy of Chris F on

This Halloween, I carved my first jack-o-lantern. Growing up religious, Halloween was forbidden, declared evil and dangerous and of the devil. Now that I’m finally able to celebrate it, my love for pumpkins has grown tenfold. Oh, sure, I liked pumpkins before, but I never had a connection with them until this year when my knife went in for the first time. Pumpkins get this treatment every year, and it makes me hope that they can’t feel.

Autumn comes with two big death events for pumpkins–Halloween and Thanksgiving, and each one is important to us for separate reasons. Halloween allows us to revel in the weird and frightening from a safe distance, and what would our revelry be without jack-o-lanterns? For many, carving a lantern is a fond childhood memory and brings back a sense of whimsy and nostalgia. For people like me, they are a symbol of our liberation and ability to finally make our own choices without fear. In a way, the lanterns, for us, really do ward off evil. and for this freedom, the pumpkin must be mutilated. A death for another to feel alive.

Thanksgiving allows us to feel stressed and silenced by our family, but whilst eating a copious amount of delicious food! During this awful ordeal, pumpkins, ever faithful, are made into the sweet treat pumpkin pie. It helps us to get through the obligatory time spent with people we’d rather not be around, and softens the blow that they will never bother to make this unfortunate holiday more bearable. The pie on our plates is a welcome distraction from the palpable tension that lingers, unacknowledged and unspoken, above our heads like a guillotine.

I’ve taken to growing pumpkins for myself and my family, and seeing my first success out there, sitting peacefully and happily as it grows, makes me want to thank pumpkins for their sacrifice. My first pumpkin I’ve grown will not be eaten, carved, or harmed in any way. I plan on leaving it on the vine and just letting it be. For all that pumpkins give us, I think it’s a fair arrangement.

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