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Monday, October 28


Everyone has told me that Hallowe'en is not celebrated in Finland, rather, children dress up like witches and ask for candy around Easter.  Though today when visiting Uncle Veikko, in the small rural town  Kangasniemi, I spotted these extremely pale carved pumpkins.  How come???  

The origin of the Jack O'lantern is uncertain, but the tradition seems to have come to us from our Irish, Scottish and English ancestors. All of these cultures, at some point in their histories, lit up the carved faces of  gourds, turnips, potatoes, and mangelwurzels (or beets) in celebration of All Saints Day or Samhain.  Pumpkins are native to North America and became the winter vegetable of choice for creating Jack of the Lantern.      A version of Mid-19th century folklore speaks of Stingy Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses the cross to trap the Devil in a coin.  Jack tricks the Devil into an agreement to prevent him taking his soul.  Once Jack dies, the Devil mockingly throws him an ember. In response, Jack carves a face into a turnip, places the ember within, and eternally walks the earth in search of a resting place. 

I regret missing Hallowe'en in Canada, but these pumpkins take me there.  The birch tree forests, utilitarian interiors, and the foggy, overcast atmosphere helps too; makes me feel a bit like I'm in the 2008 Swedish romantic horror film Let The Right One In.  No snow yet.

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