National Pumpkin Day is October 26. This unofficial holiday has murky origins, but as a staple of the fall holiday season, does it really matter who started the day? This holiday should not be confused with National Pumpkin Spice Day (October 1), which honors the spices and not the pumpkin.
National Pumpkin Day is Thursday, October 26, 2023.
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As mentioned above, there is no clear indicator of how this observance got started. Most likely it was a food marketing agency or a PR campaign of some kind. And that makes it similar to other types of food-related holidays during October including the previously mentioned Pumpkin Spice Day, but also:
- National Pumpkin Seed Day — October 3
- National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day — October 21
- National Pumpkin Pie Day — December 25
Since this is a very informal holiday, the most rewarding activities are the ones you create for yourself–and what better way to celebrate just a few days before Halloween than by carving a pumpkin?
For some, the bigger the pumpkin, the better. The large versions are great for carving but may not be so good for eating–if you plan to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, or even pumpkin cheesecake to celebrate National Pumpkin Day, you may be better off using the flesh of a smaller, grown-to-eat variety rather than the carving type.
Some will enjoy the prep process of using fresh, not-canned pumpkin in their seasonal dishes but if you are pressed for time, it’s best to use the canned variety for consistency and speed.
There are many recipes calling for pumpkin; if you use canned, remember that in the store you’ll find cans with about 15 ounces of pumpkin puree or roughly two cups worth. A typical, average-sized pumpkin may also contain two cups worth of potential pumpkin puree.
If you want to compost a carved pumpkin or its innards after October ends, be sure to remove any non-pumpkin remainders such as candles or decorations, then you can chop it up and put it into a composter or in an isolated spot under a pile of leaves.
If you choose to use the pile of leaves method, be sure the pumpkin is well away from common areas as the decomposition process may be a bit pungent.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, there are many different types of pumpkin to choose from. They include, but are definitely not limited to:
- Baby Bear
- Small Sugar or New England Pie (this is the traditional pumpkin pie pumpkin)
- Sugar Treat
- Winter Luxury
- Standard Orange
- Autumn Gold
- Funny Face
- Harvest Moon
- Young’s Beauty
Scientists believe that pumpkins started growing in North America some nine thousand years ago, with the oldest seeds thought to be from Mexico, dating back to as early as 5550 B.C.
One of the biggest, if not THE biggest, pumpkins in the world was grown in October of 2017, weighing more than 2,500 pounds.
Some estimate there are well over a billion and a half pumpkins grown in the USA alone each year. But others estimate that some 95% of all pumpkins grown in the United States come from a single location; Morton, Illinois.
How both bits of trivia can be true at the same time isn’t clear, but competing sources claim Morton is responsible for a very large proportion of CANNED pumpkin, not necessarily freshly harvested.
According to the University of Southern California, “pumpkin” has its roots in the word “peopon,” which is Greek for “large melon”. In French, the word is pompom, and in the parlance of the U.K. it was referred to as a pumpion. Americans seem to be responsible for the popularity of the word “pumpkin”.
There are many pumpkin varieties. Not all of them are suitable for carving, and not all suitable for carving are good to eat.
Pumpkin, Pumpkin Bend, Pumpkin Center, Pumpkin Hill, Pumpkin Hollow, Pumpkin Hook, Pumpkintown are some of the many cities and towns in the U.S.