Yesterday as I scooped out all the innards of the pumpkin trying to thin
it down to the skin, I began wondering why I was doing it, when so many
people these days just spend five minutes cutting a few holes.
The first obvious thing was that I make pumpkin pie (or more accurately
honey, apple and pumpkin pie)
The second is that the innards are turned into green goo for dipping for
coins (pumpkin innards, green children's paint and some flour with half
a cup of 5p/1p & perhaps a few bigger ones).
But the real intention was to make the skin of the pumpkin as
translucent as possible so that the candle would show through (although
these days with the super star-killing street lights, it's difficult to
see the pumpkin - so hence three candles this year).
And then it hit me, that in the not too distant past, when people could
see the stars at night, but couldn't see their own feet for the dark. If
people went around with young children, at the time of year when very
young children start experiencing the winter dark during their waking
hours, then they too would have needed light.
So, perhaps they also carried around a light - and to avoid wind, the
candle or oil-lamp would need to be in a protective enclosure - and what
simpler way to make such a wind enclosure is by scooping out a
"pumpkin". So perhaps the reason we have "pumpkin lights" is a direct
descendant of the ordinary kinds of lights that ordinary people used -
although obviously it would have been something like a neep (turnip).
But of course, there would be absolutely no archaeological record of
something as ephemeral as a "pumpkin light"
... or would there?