Way back last century, farmers in Scotland sometimes used a pumpkin or turnip for the head of a scarecrow. Chosen for its size, shape and colour tone, such vegetables could look convincingly like a human face. Perhaps their use for this dates back to early primitive times. I’d like to think it did.
The Celts also used pumpkins and the like to frighten off superstition.
Maybe the features of a face were fashioning by cutting holes in the hollowed out gourd. Perhaps a primitive candle, made from animal fat and plant fibre, could have been used to serve its function as a lantern – who knows?
I can recall the first time I saw a pumpkin lantern as a child. It was Halloween. Carried by one of a group of children, walking after dark along the dimly lit Scottish street where I lived - this was really scary to me. I can imagine how this, otherwise lifeless piece of carved vegetable, with its eerie ghoulish appearance, could conjure up fear in someone viewing it from a distance.
According to Wikipedia, the Celts believed that “the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge”. For this reason, belief was that the pumkin had the power to ward off evil spirits. It puts quite a different perspective on the term pumpkin-head!