Pumpkins and Autumn
Technically, autumn began on September 23, but for me it begins on October 1st. As a teacher I had autumnal themes for as many classroom activities I could imagine. September was about apples and Johnny Appleseed. October was about pumpkins and Halloween.
Autumn is a season of fairly drastic change. It is my favorite season of the year (but will fall into 2nd place when spring begins). Temperatures cool, days get shorter, and scenery outdoors changes. Everything that hasn't already turned brown, turns brown. Many birds that delighted me with their songs have gone south and the butterflies have disappeared. I am in awe of God's creation of my part of the outdoors. Psalm 136 says to me that even though the seasons change, "His steadfast love endures forever."
And, there are pumpkins everywhere! Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin yogurt (yuck) and pumpkin prints on clothing for young and old. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven," especially pumpkins. Pumpkins have many symbolic meanings:
prosperity: they can be used for many different things
security: a food staple that can last a long time if stored properly
abundance: one pumpkin can feed a large family
stability: pumpkins can grow almost anywhere and signify your home is permanent
My favorite use for a pumpkin is to make a jack-o'-lantern. I learned that this tradition began in Ireland. The old folktale goes something like this: An old Irishman named Stingy Jack tricked the Devil to turning himself into a coin so Jack could use it to pay for his drink. Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross so the Devil couldn't turn back into himself again. When Stingy Jack passe away, he found that he had made both God and the Devil mad. Stingy Jack is stuck on earth in the dark night with only a burning coal put inside a carved-out turnip to light his way. For the complete story you can read "The Legend of 'Stingy Jack'" at history.com.
Between stories like this with the devil in it, associations with pagan spirits and celebrations, and bad behaviors like mischief and vandalism, many people do not like Halloween. In contrast, I love that I can have fun with jack-o'lanterns, spooky stories and handing out candy on Halloween night. Even though I am bombarded with pumpkin "everything," I love pumpkins too. Pumpkins, brown leaves and the season of autumn are all a part of God's creation and His steadfast love endures forever.