Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pumpkinhead: Red Hair and Halloween



In previous posts I've mentioned links between red hair and the Reformation - orange was the colour of Protestantism and many prominent Protestants had red hair. Anyway, I recently found out that the Beatle-esq bowl-cuts, associated in history with Puritans and Roundheads, were know as pumpkin shell cuts in America. In fact, one website I came across stated that pumpkin shells were used in the actual cutting.
According to an eighteenth-century book on the history of Connecticut, dried pumpkin shells gave the colonists a head start on haircuts. A pumpkin shell was placed on top of a colonist's shaggy noggin and used as a cutting guide. People with these hairstyles were called "pumpkin-heads." http://www.highlightskids.com/stories/great-pumpkin
It occurred to me that maybe there was a link between Protestantism and Halloween, and that maybe the term "pumpkin-head" was a name for Protestants and Puritans in general.

Was the orange pumpkin once a symbolic totem for the Protestant movement? And more interestingly, was the moniker also inspired by the predominance of red hair amongst the bowl-headed reformists?

The old wives tale stating that pumpkin can remove freckles also springs to mind.

In Britain turnips were used for Jack-o'-lanterns before the advent of the American pumpkin. Turnips are generally purple/reddish at the top and white towards the bottom. Did they also symbolise a ruddy head?

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