Proof we're potty about pumpkins!
|Our mini white pumpkins look very at home in the showroom right now, on our Osborne Ottoman.|
If you’re on Instagram, as we are, you can’t fail to have noticed the plethora of pumpkins popping up in shots of your favourite Insta personalities’ homes. Pumpkins and squashes in every shape and hue have been appearing in porches, on staircases, mantelpieces, kitchen islands, dining tables, with pets – and even in the bath! Gourdness knows, we Brits seem to have gone pumpkin-potty!
We thought we'd forage for a few facts about pumpkins in this week's blog, as well as give you a little extra inspo courtesy of our favourite Insta stylists. Thanks to all of them for agreeing to be featured here.
|A beautifully set table, with white pumpkins taking pride of place, by the_suffolk_nest|
In the UK, pumpkin carving didn’t really take off in earnest until the 1990s, largely because we started catching on to the big fuss about Halloween in America, where it’s second only to Christmas in the amount of consumer spending it generates.
Although China is the world’s largest producer of pumpkins, followed by India, pumpkin growing the UK, albeit small by comparison, is on the up. An estimated 15 million pumpkins are grown here every year and Britain is home to Europe’s largest pumpkin grower, in Lincolnshire, producing a whopping 2 million pumpkins per year.
In fact, in its latest three-monthly review of the UK grocery market, analysts Kantar reported that some £1.5 million has already been spent on the ghostly gourds in the run-up to Halloween this year, a 29% increase on the same time last year.
A total of 147 pumpkins line the steps up to this renovated house in the Surrey Hills while more lie in the bath and sink! Courtesy @jonpaulclark. Check out his Instagram for more A.MAZ.ING pics of pumpkins, especially those in the latest Farrow & Ball colours!
And we can’t really blame America for the Halloween craze. The custom of celebrating All Hallows’ Eve originated in Europe, starting with the Celts before being incorporated into the Christian calendar. It was during the 8th century that November 1 was officially designated a feast day, All Hallows Day, to remember those who had died for their beliefs.
The idea for pumpkin lanterns actually originated In Ireland, so the “Jack O’ lantern” story goes, and travelled across the pond with Irish immigrants in the early 1800s, before coming back to haunt us in Blighty once again.
The character first associated with hollowing out a squash and using it as a lantern was not a particularly likeable one. He was a miserly drunk, known as Jack, who liked to play tricks on just about everyone: his family, friends, and even the devil himself. Unsurprisingly, upon his death, he was not allowed into heaven or hell but doomed to roam the dark Netherworld in between.
|A lovely array of pumpkins displayed by the fireplace by @reviving_no37|
According to folklore, the devil tossed Jack an ember from the flames of hell to light his way. Jack, who carried a turnip with him, hollowed it out and placed the ember inside. Thereafter he wandered the earth without a resting place, holding his lantern aloft, which is how he became known as Jack of the lantern, or Jack O’ lantern.
Across the British Isles, people used turnips, or sometimes beets or potatoes, to make their own Jack O’ lanterns – carving menacing faces into them and placing them near doorways or windows to ward off Jack and other evil spirits. The bone-white turnip, with its resemblance to a human skull, would probably have looked realistically macabre.
In America, early immigrants quickly discovered that pumpkins, a native fruit, were far easier to carve into elaborate faces and shapes, although the tradition was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.
|Light and sophisticated ... these white pumpkins are beautifully matched to the mirror and mantelpiece. Picture: @hannahs_home_project|
Although often thought of as a vegetable, pumpkins are actually a fruit. They are very nutritious and contain potassium and Vitamin A. Pumpkin flowers are edible and the seeds are a great source of protein and unsaturated fats, including omega-3. They also contain iron, selenium, calcium, B vitamins and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
So not only are these fruits decorative, they’re good for us too. No wonder they’re on the rise in the popularity stakes!