Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch • 4414 Piedmont Avenue • Oakland • 94611 • (510) 967-9363

Carving Pumpkins

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History of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31.  The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows' Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.


Traditional activities include shopping at the Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch, trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.


Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win").

The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.


The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow's Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits.


The Tale of Stingy Jack and the Jack O' Lantern


Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. Many of the stories, center round Stingy Jack. Here's the most popular story:


Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. After the Devil climbed up the tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Unable to touch a cross, the Devil was stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses, and the Devil climbed down out of the apple tree.


Many years later, Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was mean and cruel, and had led a miserable, worthless life on earth. Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared . He had nowhere to go, but to wander about forever in the dark Netherworld between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave, as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell, to help Stingy Jack light his way. Jack had a Turnip with him. It was one of his favorite foods, and he always carried one with him. Jack hollowed out the Turnip, and placed the ember the Devil had given him, inside the turnip. From that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".


On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.


History Of The Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch


It's not Halloween without pumpkins. The most commonly carved jack-o-lanterns are from orange pumpkins. We carry many sizes of orange pumpkins here from baseball-sized "wee-be-little" pumpkins up to giant beachball sized pumpkins.  We also, have heirloom pumpkins in red, white, green, and pink.  These make for very cool and interesting jack-o-lanterns.


We have run our pumpkin patch since 1996. Kids who came here when we first opened are now bringing their own kids.  We are located  2 blocks from the famous Fenton's Ice Cream, so come visit us and then get a scoop or sundae. Aside from pumpkins we have a Halloween Store complete with carving kits, spiders, spider webs, wigs and masks. Go through the patch to the  Haunted House ($7 for Haunted House)

When you go shopping for a pumpkin, make sure that you get one that's a good size, has a good stem and is solid

We'll see you here!