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.

The Halloween history of pumpkin smashing
Modern Farmer digs into the cultural history of jack-o-lantern destruction.