In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Thanksgiving. The pumpkin is a nutritious and versatile plant. The flowers, seeds and flesh are all edible and rich in vitamins.
The flesh of the pumpkin is used to make soups, pies and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals.
References to pumpkins date back many centuries. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for “large melon” which is “pepon.” “Pepon” was nasalized by the French into “pompon.” The English changed “pompon” to “Pumpion.”
Shakespeare referred to the “pumpion” in his Merry Wives of Windsor. American colonists changed “pumpion” into “pumpkin.” The “pumpkin” is referred to in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella.
Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. They also roasted long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and ate them.
The origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.
The new Americans heartily embraced the sweet, multi-purpose fruit which became a traditional Thanksgiving food. The colonists used pumpkin as a side dish and dessert, but also in soups; and they even made beer with it.
Here in Charleston, we have a tradition of our own. Pumpkins in the Park! Every October at the State Capitol Complex, we celebrate the fall season with a 5K run/walk, carnival style games, great food, and a pumpkin pie eating contest. This year the event will be held on October 15, starting at 8:00 am.
Also, here’s one that you don’t see every day. Bridgemont Community & Technical College invites students to participate in the 13th Annual CAPITAL CITY PUMPKIN DROP being held at Power Park in Charleston, on October 20, 2011.
Classrooms will follow engineering specifications to design the most accurate and safest way to drop a pumpkin from 30+ feet in the air and hit a target on the ground. The goal is to hit the target with the pumpkin still intact.
Cash awards will be presented to the school represented by the first, second and third place winners.
Eat well Charleston, and live long!
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