By the time October rolls around, vibrant orange pumpkins line every neighborhood block, and the aroma of pumpkin spice wafts through every cafe. Families plan trips to the pumpkin patch, and bond over activities like carving jack-o-lanterns and roasting pumpkin seeds. On Thanksgiving Day, no feast would be complete without a creamy pumpkin pie.
There is no denying that pumpkins and the autumn season go hand-in-hand, but did you know there is actually a holiday dedicated to celebrating pumpkins? October 26th is National Pumpkin Day—so steep a cup of your favorite seasonal pumpkin tea, and read up on the origins, history and myths surrounding this festive fruit.
Origins of Pumpkins
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America. Archaeologists have discovered the oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds in the Oaxaca Highlands, and traced the fruit back more than 7,500 years
These ancient pumpkins were small, tough and bitter, but hardy enough to survive long periods of food scarcity. For this reason, they were a staple in pre-Columbian Mexican diets. The Mayans may have been the first to carve pumpkins, turning them into drinking vessels.
After arriving in the Americas, European settlers soon began incorporating pumpkins into their own diets. One of the first recorded pumpkin recipes was a simple dish of boiled and mashed pumpkin, seasoned with spices and butter. The recipe was included in New England’s Rarities Discovered, a cookbook published in the early 1670’s.
The first ever sweet pumpkin recipe consisted of a hollowed-out pumpkin rind filled with a spiced custard. This early recipe is believed to have paved the way for pumpkin pie.
European settlers are also credited with starting another beloved pumpkin tradition: carving jack-o-lanterns. This custom was carried over from pagan Celtic celebrations in Ireland and Scotland, where turnips and potatoes were carved and filled with burning coal. This practice was believed to ward off evil spirits.
When the settlers realized that pumpkins were larger, easier to carve, and more readily available than turnips and potatoes, the tradition of carving pumpkins was born.
Today pumpkins are grown all over the globe, and are prized for their nutritional, agricultural and ornamental value. China, India, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States are among the top pumpkin-producing nations.
Even in modern times, pumpkins remain steeped in myth and lore. From Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage to the headless horseman’s pumpkin head in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it appears there may always be a link between pumpkins and the supernatural.
Fun Facts About Pumpkins
- The largest pumpkin recorded in U.S. history weighed an astounding 2,528 pounds.
- Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which also includes watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers and squash.
- 80% of the U.S.’s pumpkin crop is available during the month of October.
- The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.
- The Pilgrims were known to brew pumpkin beer by fermenting pumpkins, hops and maple sugar.
- An average-size pumpkin contains about 1 cup of seeds.
Celebrate National Pumpkin Day with Pumpkin Tea
- Pumpkin Spice Black Tea – Delight your senses and chase away the autumn chill with this best-selling seasonal tea. A cornucopia of zesty baking spices envelops a sweet pumpkin core and full-bodied black tea. Add a splash of warm milk and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice to create a festive tea latte.
- Golden Pumpkin Tea – Cozy up any time of the day or evening with this herbal pumpkin tea, which blends the best of pumpkin spice lattes and golden milk. Earthy turmeric and fragrant pumpkin pie spices will keep you warm all season long.
We invite every Citizen to celebrate National Pumpkin Day sip by sip with these delightfully festive pumpkin teas!