Why We Worship the Pumpkin


As the fall season is wrapping up, so is the “pumpkin craze”, but have you ever considered where this craze originated from? Out of all the vegetables and fruits available in fall, why is this specific squash so popular?

The obvious answer would be Halloween, but that holiday actually originated as a Celtic celebration of the new year. The Celtics believed that the new year fell on November 1st, as that was the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of colder winter days.

They also believed that on that day spirits could cross over to the human world. The Celts would dress up as animals and monsters so the visiting spirits wouldn’t recognize them as human. To defend themselves even more from the spirits, they would make lanterns out of turnips

Now this does sound really similar to the Halloween that we celebrate today, however, where do the pumpkins come in? 

Pumpkins are native to North America so as the British and Irish people came to the continent, they discovered a squash that was way easier to carve into a lantern than a turnip. Soon,  Halloween and Thanksgiving traditions started to blend together as the pumpkin became the iconic fall food.

However, that still doesn’t explain why we have pumpkin spice dog treats and pumpkin spice Jello. How exactly did the pumpkin’s popularity get so extreme?

According to PhD Jordan Gaines Lewis, it’s because of the meaning we give to fall themed items. Even if fall is your favorite season, you can probably agree that progressively shorter and colder days aren’t something to get excited about. Despite this, we love fall for different reasons. 

We like it for the holidays, the colorful leaves, the new fall/winter fashion, and for the chance to finally light up the fireplace and get cozy next to it. When we associate these warm memories with a product such a pumpkin spice latte, we get nostalgic not only for the memories, but also the product. 

It also helps that most fall themed items are available for a limited time only. This helps create scarcity and builds excitement around things like candles and pumpkin spice treats.

The sugar content of these treats also makes us crave them even more, because after all, if you want something sweet it might as well be fall-flavored and limited edition.

What started as an annual cultural celebration of the new year has turned into a consumeristic dream, impacting you psychologically and emptying your wallet as you buy more pumpkin and cinnamon scented candles than you can ever use in your lifetime.