Saints, Souls, and Haints: Here Come the Pumpkins

Pumpkin fields Some pumpkin-laden advice from Janet McKenzie Hill, sounding like the Martha Stewart of a much earlier generation in her  Practical Cooking and Serving: a Complete Manual of How to Select, Prepare, and Serve Food (1902, p. 566):

CENTREPIECE OF FRUIT FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER OR HARVEST FESTIVAL [Halloween]
Select a golden-colored, medium-sized, well-shaped pumpkin. With a sharp knife fashion into the shape of a basket with an old-fashioned tub handle on each side. Carefully scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a thin shell. Polish the rind and line the inside neatly with white paper. The paper may be held in place with pins.

Halloween Mystic Vintage Card Pumpkin Black CatFill the basket with apples, pears, and grapes of various hues. A mat of autumn leaves, maple or sumac, gives the finishing touch to this table ornament. A fruit basket, fashioned from a cabbage, is appropriate for halloween [sic].

Note: for the next two weeks, I’m working on a couple of intensive writing projects, so “Gherkins & Tomatoes” will of necessity be brief, with a look at “Saints, Souls, and Haints” in honor of the ancient traditions of Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. “Haints” comes from a slang term used for “ghost” in the American South.

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