The rise of the Great pop-culture Pumpkin

Not only are pumpkins tasty and deliciously orange, they are magical, mysterious and mystical, and no one knows this better than Linus van Pelt (aka Blockhead). In It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Linus spends time sitting in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night, as he has done for many a year, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. ‘The world according to Linus’ states that on Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch it deems to be the most “sincere”. The Great Pumpkin then flies through the air to deliver toys to all the good little children in the world but is likely to pass by anyone who doubts its existence. When writing to the Great Pumpkin, you don’t ask him to bring you anything specific: you wait for whatever he brings you. According to Linus, the Great Pumpkin gives away toys because it has a moral obligation to do so.

Many symbolic references can be read into Charles M. Schulz’s Great Pumpkin mythology – Linus grapples with his minority belief in the existence of an entity that is called into question by the majority. But to over analyse the story detracts from its magic and humour. There is something so hopeful and endearing (and hysterically funny) about a little boy sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for a Great Pumpkin to arise. Linus believes, to the core of his being, in the sincerity of his pumpkin patch; “I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.” Linus’s absolute devotion to the sincerity of his patch encapsulates the modern spirit of the Halloween festival, and, surprisingly, Charles M. Schulz is even able to insert a little moral into It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: the value of genuineness and goodwill. When Charlie Brown derides Linus for believing in something that isn’t true, Linus bites back with an answer so ironic and yet philosophically sound:

Charlie Brown: When are you going to stop believing in something that isn’t true?
Linus: When YOU stop believing in that fat guy in a red suit and the white beard who goes, “Ho, ho, ho!”

Linus’s shrewd observations don’t stop there:

Linus: Well, that’s nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of trick-or-treats.

Linus:I’ve learned there are three things you don’t discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

[Lucy scoops out the innards of the pumpkin] Linus: Ohh. You didn’t tell me you were gonna kill it!

Linus’s interpretation of Halloween renders the Great Pumpkin a symbol of hope and expectation. Popular culture has changed the evil associated with the ancient festival of Samhain; where costumes were worn, jack-o’-lanterns were lit and bonfires roared in an attempt to ward off the evil spirits on All Hallows’ Eve. Whatever Halloween folktale, myth or legend you choose to put your faith in, the traditional jack-o’-lantern has become synonymous with fun. The Halloween associated with popular culture has produced some beautifully artistic pumpkin carvings that would most certainly assure the sincerity of any pumpkin patch. The imagination and frivolity of monsters, ghouls and goblins can be celebrated and de-mystified in the spirit of enjoyment and merry making. It is a shame to let the spirit of the Great Pumpkin pass by unheeded on Halloween night.

Linus: I’m doomed. One little slip like that could cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by. Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?

Linus: There he is! There he is! It’s the Great Pumpkin! He’s rising out of the pumpkin patch!

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