Frightening unsuspecting strangers and chasing away evil spirits, all while collecting sweets – Halloween is a lot of fun for kids! Aside from being a symbol of this popular tradition, the pumpkin also serves as inspiration for autumnal decorations.
Strange as it may sound, the thrill of being scared is a recognised psychological phenomenon. We deliberately bring ourselves into frightening situations and are mightily relieved when it all turns out to be harmless fun. Our hormones send us on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, and we’re rewarded for our courage with the release of endorphins, which produce a sort of natural high. By around the age of five, children have come to realise that Halloween is a thrilling but basically harmless experience, and begin to look forward to that exciting evening at the end of October when the nights have drawn in.
The Anglo-Saxon equivalent of what in German-speaking countries is known as “Fasnacht”, Halloween was originally an ancient Celtic festival which celebrated the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Scary masks were worn to drive away evil spirits that had returned from the realm of the dead. The familiar bizarre lanterns were originally carved out of turnips, but these proved hard to come by for the Irish emigrants, who took the tradition with them to America in the 19th century. So they decided to use pumpkins instead, which proved an ideal choice.
Pumpkins are not only perfect for carving impressively spooky Jack O’Lanterns, but people can also be creative in what they make out of the pulp they remove in the process (and here is a great selection of recipes http://www.essen-und-trinken.de/kuerbis). Cooking the pumpkin dish together is a additional ritual parents can celebrate with their children.
Maybe it’s the appeal of Halloween that has made the pumpkin so popular with us, or perhaps its slightly sweet taste or huge variety of shapes and colours. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear – the pumpkin is really in vogue, both as a decorative item as well as for lanterns and cooking. Its characteristic shape has become a source of inspiration for designers. Whether in glass, wood or plastic, from the beginning of October onwards, these stylish and realistic creations are terrific for creating a rustic, autumnal tone in your decorations.
As imaginative as they are, spooky lanterns are not something we want around us for too long. From time to time, we actively crave those scary moments that make us feel truly alive. Afterwards, however, we seek to regain our composure in our safe, comfortable homes.