Autumn is here and pumpkins are everywhere, particularly in Ludwigsburg where they have a whole festival of pumpkins or Kürbis as they call them. This year’s theme was fairy tales and there are a range of giant pumpkins sculptures, amazing pumpkin carving, hundreds of different varieties of pumpkin on display and various pumpkin food and drink options. I was sorry to miss the Pumpkin Canoe Regatta which took place the weekend before I was there! Lots of people have been turning pumpkins into an amazing variety of other things.
The notion of things or people turning into pumpkins may have started in fairy tales but it has spread to popular culture and common parlance. Most often I think it means running out of time at the end of the night. I could hear someone European talking about “and then we turn into pumpkins, right” in my head, and it took me a while to recall that it’s a line from one of my favourite films, Before Sunrise.
Jesse: I feel like this is some dream world we’re in, you know?
Celine: Yeah, it’s so weird. It’s like our time together is just ours. It’s our own creation. It must be like I’m in your dream and you’re in mine or something
Jesse: And what’s so cool is that this whole evening, all our time together, shouldn’t officially be happening
Celine: Yeah, I know. Maybe that’s why this feels so otherworldly. But then the morning comes and we turn into pumpkins, right
Unlike in the Cinderella story, here it’s the humans anticipating pumpkinification… an idea which seems to have also gained some popularity as a warning against eating too many sweets at Halloween. I’m not quite sure why this video has so many views:
Other people online are complaining that pumpkins or pumpkin spice flavour in particular has totally taken over (it’s a bit sweary).
Another trend I’ve found online which seemed to be growing in popularity in 2017 and 2018 was using face paint and glitter to turn a particular part of the human anatomy into a pumpkin (search for #pumpkinbutt at your own risk – it started off as a cute baby thing but there are definitely some larger pumpkins out there…)
Rather classier are these glass pumpkins made by my friend who creates ‘Big Red Elephant Glass’, see her Etsy shop here. While I’m not a fan of Halloween, I do like the autumnal warm orange of pumpkins, and love a bit of pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie. I did think the displays in Ludwigsburg were fabulous.
It also got me thinking about how the actual Cinderella story isn’t so much a warning of a punishment for staying out too late. Cinderella herself isn’t threatened with pumpkinification – just that the pumpkin which the fairy godmother transformed into her carriage would revert to its original pumpkin state at midnight, admittedly leaving her stranded at the ball (unless she could find someone skilled at pumpkin canoe making…). The magic or the illusion would wear off, and she’d just be left with a glorious huge orange fruit with lots of seeds and potential.
Maybe turning into a pumpkin isn’t so much about what happens when you eat too many sweets, or stay out too late. Maybe it’s about being honest about what you really are. We can all put on an act for an evening, or spend a lot of time putting on make up for a selfie. But maybe the largest fruit in the world, which grows and feeds people and offers many seeds to share – maybe that’s a good thing to be. This porcupine certainly appreciates them!