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By: Andrianna Veatch, Staff Reporter
Jack Skellington is Tim Burton’s Pumpkin King of Halloween, and (disregarding his being a skeleton), perhaps no more accurate emblematic description can be applied to the pumpkin itself. Firstly, a fun fact: pumpkins are fruits, of the Cucurbita pepo family, which originated on our North American continent.
Many people fondly recollect the classic ‘pumpkin patches’ of their youth; the delightful thrill of choosing your perfect orange squash to take home as a pet. A common American societal tradition, especially among students here on campus, is carving the Jack-O-Lantern. It is a messy, tasty, fun-time experience with family members that have become deeply rooted in the American psyche, though the tradition of the of the Jack-O-Lantern may have stemmed from an ancient practice on the moors of England. During the winter, inhabitants of the moor would light a little candle and put it inside a gourd or squash to guide travelers journeying at night. On the other hand, the symbol of the pumpkin is tightly linked with the concept of the harvest and bounty of the coming winter. Every year, around Halloween, there is the popular “Giant Pumpkin” contests. According to Cindy Ott, authoress of “Object Analysis of the Giant Pumpkin” (alas, not the one revered by Linus in the Peanuts), these giant pumpkins are symbols of nature’s abundance, while also being utterly useless themselves. In some subtle way, this may tap into the American consumerism consciousness: bigger is better if not entirely practical.
Another driving force behind the symbolism of the Jack-O-Lantern is Washington Irving’s Halloween staple, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” whose classic Headless Horseman dons a grinning pumpkin head during the climax. One could say that pumpkins have a fabulous advertising agent, for it seems all of the society itself has crowned the humble pumpkin king of Halloween.