Vampire Pumpkins and Scary Shrunken-Head Swedes

Happy Halloween OGOMERS!!

I hope you are enjoying some spooky festivities. I have written in the past about swede or turnip Jack ‘0’ Lanterns being the most authentic and we used to carve these as children in rural Cumbria. Here’s a cat a lantern I made from a swede

This old Irish one is very scary indeed:

Then there are the vampire pumpkins and watermelons of folk legend associated with the Romany people of South Eastern Europe. These were described by Tatomir Vukanovic in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society which covered his trip to Serbia (1933 -1948). During the night of a full moon a pumpkin or melon could undergo a vampiric transformation, shown by the appearance of a drop of blood on its skin.

There are only two plants which are regarded as likely to turn into vampires: pumpkins of every kind and water-melons. And the change takes place when they are ‘fighting one another.’ In Podrima and Prizrenski Podgor they consider this transformation occurs if these ground fruit have been kept for more than ten days: then the gathered pumpkins stir all by themselves and make a sound like ‘brrrl, brrrl, brrrl!’ and begin to shake themselves. It is also believed that sometimes a trace of blood can be seen on the pumpkin, and the Gs. then say it has become a vampire. These pumpkins and melons go round the houses, stables, and rooms at night, all by themselves, and do harm to people. But it is thought that they cannot do great damage to folk, so people are not very afraid of this kind of vampire.
The Gs. destroy pumpkins and melons which have become vampires … by plunging them into a pot of boiling water, which is then poured away, the ground fruit being afterwards scrubbed by a broom and then thrown away, and the broom burned.

(Tatomir Vukanović, Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society)

N.B. Gs stands for Gypsies as that is the word that is used at this time.

I have had fun finding the vegetables for this rather wonderful theme below…

If you are still to carve your pumpkin or swede here’s a helpful video featuring GANZA’s own Lorna Piatti Farnell

Have a magical night!

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire

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