Wednesday, 18 October 2017


At this time of year, when my kids were growing up, we had a lot to celebrate! We had two birthdays (and parties and gifts and food), Thanksgiving (and decorations and a gathering and food) and Halloween (and three jack-o-lanterns and three costumes and food). Yikes. October was a lot of work and a lot of fun.

So in the spirit of all that autumn-ness and food, I decided to look into two common words of the season: pumpkin and candy.

Pumpkin, a delightful-sounding little word that we've forgotten to appreciate (say it five times fast, and you'll see what I mean), comes to us via Middle French via Latin from Greek. Throughout its long life since the 1540s, the venerable pumpkin's ancestors were pompone, pompon, pepon and peptein – words for melon and, originally, "cooked by the sun" or ripe.

Pumpkin pie has been around since the 1650s. People have been smart for a very long time.

The word "candy" has an even longer history than "pumpkin." As far back as the late 13th century, folks have had their candi (French), qandi (Arabic), qand (Persian) and khanda (Sanskrit). All of these words are related, unsurprisingly, to sugar.

Of course, October isn't all about food. There are other things going on – garden clean-up and beautiful trees and changing weather and crisp afternoons. But let's face it, this month has a lot of food going on, so we might as well know where some of it comes from.

Here's wishing you all the beauty and freshness and deliciousness of the season!

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