Autumn arrives in September—according to the calendar—even though pumpkin spiced everything usually hits store shelves in August. For the most part, though, the season doesn’t really get started until we see leaves falling and neighborhood doorsteps decorated with pumpkins.
The traditionally orange winter squash is most often associated with Halloween jack-o’-lanterns and Thanksgiving pies, but did you know they have their own holiday? Their special day is today, Oct. 26, and we’re sharing some ways to celebrate.
Support a Local Pumpkin Farm
The pumpkin harvest typically begins in late September and runs well into October. That’s when pumpkin farms in your area will host plenty of festive, pumpkin-related activities for kids of all ages, and maybe some adult gatherings, too. Look for a pumpkin farm in your area and spend a day enjoying hayrides, trying your aim at the pumpkin launch, eating some home cookin’, shopping for pumpkin-related products, and of course, picking the perfect pumpkins to take home for carving, decorating, or cooking.
Carve a Jack-o’-Lantern
We can’t talk about pumpkins without talking about pumpkin carving! In case you’ve never participated in this tradition: simply carve around the stem, remove the top, scoop out the guts with a spoon (enjoy the sliminess!), sketch a face on the outside, and then carve it out! You can go with a classic, spooky jack-o’-lantern style, or get super creative by carving out the logo of your favorite sports team, cartoon character, a portrait of the family cat. The artistic possibilities are endless! (Don’t forget to save the seeds while you’re carving – more on that in a bit!)
Eat or Drink Some Pumpkin
Pumpkins may be the most versatile member of the squash family when it comes to recipe ingredients since its pulp works well in dishes that are savory or sweet. Most of us go for the sweet, stuff though.
Fire up the skillet and kick off start the day with a batch of pumpkin pancakes.
Did you save the seeds from your jack-o’-lantern? Rinse them off, spread them out on a baking sheet, sprinkle on some salt, (also a little chili powder if you’re feeling spicy), and roast in the oven at 300°F until golden brown (about 40 minutes). Toasted pumpkin seeds are delicious and high in healthy fats, protein, minerals, and fiber!
Get cozy with a hot drink and a delicious pumpkin pie.
If you haven’t already, pick up a pumpkin spice latte at your local coffee shop.
Return Your Pumpkin to the Earth
Pumpkins are native to North America. When you’re done cooking or decorating with your pumpkins, give them back to the land that gave them to us!
Instead of throwing away the old rinds or entire jack-o’-lanterns, consider composting them or leaving them out where wildlife can eat them. Your backyard squirrels will love celebrating Pumpkin Day, too! (Along with opossums and raccoons… so put that old pumpkin away from the back door unless you want them knocking on your door to ask for more later.)