Haunted History of Halloween Favorites–Pumpkins and Apples

Day 167 of 365

My farmer-ish side has always loved the foods of harvest season. And my little bit witchy side has always loved magical stories and folklore. If there’s a superstitious story, I have always wanted to hear it, so I decided to put these loves together and tell some stories tonight about my favorite fall foods, apples and pumpkins, which are not only delicious but have an aesthetic that feels a little bit magical to me.

photo credit: Alina Scheck, Unsplash


You have to start with pumpkins, right? Of course, it wasn’t pumpkins people originally carved into Jack O Lanterns on All Hallow’s Eve; it was turnips. According to the history, Celtic people in Ireland and Scotland carved faces into turnips in order to keep “Stingy Jack” away. The myth goes that Stingy Jack tricked the Devil into paying for his drink, and when Stingy Jack died, God would not let him into heaven, and the Devil would not let him into Hell because of his trickery. So Stingy jack was doomed to haunt the earth as an angry spirit, and people carved faces into turnips and put a candle in them, placing them in their windowsills to keep away Stringy Jack and other dark spirits.

When immigrants came to the United States, they brought the Jack O Lantern tradition with them, but here in North America, pumpkins were abundant in the fall and made fantastic Jack O Lanterns. Now, here we are, still carving pumpkins and putting candles inside them. How wonderful is that?

I carved this pumpkin a few years ago, and I think it will always be one of my favorites.

But pumpkins have a magnificent history outside of our Halloween traditions. In my research, I found that Native Americans used pumpkins for everything from medicine to pies; they even dried the shells to make bowls. What a beautiful bowl a pumpkin would make, right? And there is the Native American legend of the three sisters, which appears in many different cultures in different forms, but the pumpkin or squash, along with corn and beans, are life giving women when they are together.


I have written about apples before, and I think most people know a lot of the traditional myths and legends related to apples. There’s the Adam and Eve story, and in more than one culture, apples are associated with eternal youth. I thought I would find some additional and interesting apple stories to share. I think my favorite new-to-me apple myth is that unicorns have been associated with apple trees because they love apples. I mean, who doesn’t? So, of course, unicorns love apples.

But I also learned that apples have their own kind of magic. Because apples ripen in the fall, their seeds have to make it through the long, dark winter before they can start to grow in the spring. Because of this, apples represent a magic of trust. And, along the lines of trust, I read that, if you want happiness in your relationship, cut an apple in half and share it with your loved one. I don’t know about you, but trust and love go hand in hand for me.

I also learned about ghost apples, and they are so beautiful–both kinds. One kind of ghost apple occurs when an apple rots inside ice that forms around the apple after an ice storm, and a shape of an apple is left in ice. There is also a variety of apple that is white and called a ghost apple. It is a variety with white skin and white flesh and is apparently more common in other countries but will grow here in North America. I read they taste kind of a golden delicious. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a real-life ghost apple?

I wish to write more, but it is late. I also ran across the history of candy corn in my research for this post, and while candy corn doesn’t seem very farmer-ish, it’s my favorite Halloween candy, though it seems to be hated by so many. I guess I always love the underdog.

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