Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Middle Child Who Made Pumpkin History

          It’s almost Halloween, and the pumpkins are in bloom. Okay, pumpkins don’t bloom, but you know what I mean – they’re everywhere. Why pumpkins are associated with Halloween is an interesting story, but one that has nothing to do with Middle Children at all, so I won’t waste my time going into that here. (You can click here if you’re interested.) But we might not even be calling them pumpkins at all if it wasn’t for a Middle Child: French explorer Jacques Cartier.
          According to The History Channel and numerous other sources, while exploring the St. Lawrence region of what is now Canada in 1584, Cartier reported seeing large orange gourds. “Gros melons,” he called them. Probably sounded really nice with a French accent. To be clear, Cartier didn’t discover the pumpkin – au contraire mon frère. They’ve been around for thousands of years. But Cartier brought the news of these orange orbs back to the Old World, where they were previously unheard of.
“Take me to your pumpkin.
          Upon his return, “gros melons” were known by the Greek word for large melon – “pepon.” But when the French nasalized the word, it became “pompon.” Not to be outdone by the French, the English anglicized it, calling them “pompion.” Finally, American colonists said, “Screw that!” and started calling them pumpkins.
          So there you have it. A hallowed Halloween mainstay, courtesy of the Middle Child.
          You’re welcome. 
F'd Up Fun Fact: The truth is, none of this happened in 1584. Oh, it happened -- just not when they say it did. I know this because Cartier was already dead by 1584, so he wasn’t doing much exploring. At least not above ground. I suspect this happened on his first journey, in 1534. Even though countless online sources say 1584, there's no disputing he died in 1557. Ooops. I figure someone transcribed the 3 as an 8, 1534 became 1584, and the rest is unchecked internet history.
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Enjoy more Halloween Middle Child nonsense.

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