Friday, September 30, 2011


   Offbeat pumpkins are stealing the spotlight from ordinary varieties.

Green Goblin pumpkin

Green Goblin

Origin: An heirloom from Chioggia, Italy; also called sea pumpkin but most commonly sold as ‘Marina di Chioggia’.

Design cred: Knobby blue-green skin has frosty highlights.

Can you eat it? You definitely should! It’s delicious cut into wedges, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and herbs, and roasted until tender.

Cinderella pumpkin


Origin: An heirloom from France; also sold as ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’.

Design cred: It’s easy to see how the softly flattened top and ridged, deep orange skin could have inspired Cinderella’s carriage in Charles Perrault’s classic French fairy tale.

Can you eat it? Yes, the rich orange flesh is tasty in pies.

Mini Fairytale pumpkin

Mini Fairytale

Origin: A miniature version of an heirloom from France.

Design cred: It’s small (less than 3 pounds) and smooth, and its green skin ripens to orange-tan.

Can you eat it? Sure, in pies. You can also make soup; reserve the top and the hollowed-out shell to use as a pretty serving bowl.

'La Estrella' pumpkin

'La Estrella'

Origin: A tropical calabaza hybrid from Florida.

Design cred: Subtle orange skin is splashed with soft green and tan.

Can you eat it? Yes, the orange flesh is good in soups, purées, and pies, or you can slice and roast it.


   A number of symbols help us recognize St. Nicholas. They developed from his most popular stories and customs.

A special tall pointed hat worn by a bishop. The miter is a general symbol for bishops, but it is unique to St. Nicholas among holiday gift-givers. (also mitre)

A hooked staff carried by a bishop; represents a shepherd's staff as the bishop is to be the shepherd of the people, as Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Again, a crozier is a general symbol for bishops, but unique to Nicholas among gift-givers. (also crosier)

Gold BallsThree Gold Balls
Represent the gold given to provide dowries for the impoverished maidens. Nicholas' gold balls became the pawnbroker's symbol. Sometimes oranges or apples are used to represent the gold.

Gold coinsGold Coins
Another way of representing the gold given as dowries.

Money BagsMoney Bags
Usually three, but sometimes one, represent the gold thrown into the house to provide dowry money.

MaidensThree Maidens
The three young women who received the gold dowry money.

Children in TubChildren In Tub
Show Nicholas as the protector of children, from the story rescuing young children or students from the evil butcher or innkeeper. Usually three children are in the tub, but sometimes only two are present.

Often shown with St. Nicholas because he is their patron saint.

Symbolizes the close association St. Nicholas has with sailors, ships, and the sea.

Represents Nicholas' relationship with ships and sailors.

This large book is the Book of the Gospels or the Holy Scriptures. In some European gift-giving traditions the large book is the recordbook of children's behavior.

Shoe with carrotShoes
Children put carrots, turnips, or hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas' horse or donkey. St. Nicholas replaces them with treats. So shoes filled with things for his horse or donkey or shoes with children's treats are symbols for St. Nicholas.

Which symbols can you find in these Saint Nicholas pictures?

Four symbols: St Nicholas, Ashchurch, UK

Seven symbols:Block print by Marlene Reidel, 1985

Four symbols:TCM Phonecard