The Halloween history of pumpkin smashing

crushed pumpkin
CC BY 2.0 Flickr user frenchroyalist3

Last year, we covered the sad story of a vandalized pumpkin patch, which belonged to a 93-year-old woman hoping to grow a prize-worthy giant. But pumpkin smashing isn't a very rare occurrence, and has a long messy history.

Tracy Motz digs into the history of Halloween pumpkins, and their destruction:

"The pumpkin forged its bonds to autumn in America via Irish immigrants, who brought along the harvest ritual of carving lanterns out of beets or turnips (and called them “jack-o’-lanterns,” after a fabled trickster named Jack who conned both God and the Devil and was denied entry to both heaven and hell, then began roaming the Earth with just a light burning from a turnip). The pumpkin was an indigenous American surprise for the Irish, who couldn’t get over how big and cavernous its hollowed-out insides could be. When it came time to choose a fall vegetable to stick a candle in, pumpkins easily beat out the meager turnip, and pumpkins became the lantern of choice."

Read the full story on Modern Farmer.

I doubt that the many pranksters are concerned with soil enrichment, however, smashing pumpkins does help the decomposition process if you add them to the compost pile.