The entrance to the festival decorated with colorful gourds, one wearing a hat on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

The entrance to the festival decorated with colorful gourds, one wearing a hat on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

Bridget Abroad: Jack-o’-lanterns vs. Jacques-o’-lanterns

Spooky Season doesn’t really exist in France. At school, there is definitely no “Halloweek.”

October doesn’t feel the same without skeletons and spiderwebs everywhere. On the other hand, no one needs to stress over finding the perfect costume, or whether or not they’re too old to go trick-or-treating (because here, it’s obviously for the young children).

Last week, a package came in the mail from my parents — with Halloween candies to show to my host family. I showed my 13-year-old brother something he had never seen before — how to use candy corn as vampire fangs. I’m sharing the very important aspects of my culture with the French.

Since the beginning of the month, I had been talking about finding a pumpkin to carve. In the stores in Cholet, France, all I could find were squash for cooking. No perfect jack-o’-lanterns. So, when I heard about the “la fête des cucurbitacées” I was intrigued. “Cucurbitacées” comes from Cucurbitaceae — another name for the gourd family, with 965 species of squash, pumpkins and melons. In the commune of Sevremoine where the fête was held, there were more types of pumpkins than I had ever seen. Lots were cleverly decorated with feathers, leaves and nuts to create a face. I even found some painted to resemble movie characters, like Minions.

After seeing every type of gourd from “les turbans d’aladin” to “les courges butternut,” I found a round, orange jack-o’-lantern! It’s going to bring some Halloween spirit to my neighborhood.


• Bridget McTague is a Juneau-Douglas High School student who is spending her junior year abroad in Cholet, France, as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange. Follow along with her travel adventures by reading her bimonthly column “Bridget Abroad” in the Juneau Empire.


Carved pumpkins and apples on display in an artist’s tent on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

Carved pumpkins and apples on display in an artist’s tent on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

La Fete des Curcubitacees. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

La Fete des Curcubitacees. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

A fountain cleverly made out of hollowed-out pumpkins on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

A fountain cleverly made out of hollowed-out pumpkins on Oct. 21, 2018. (Bridget McTague | For the Juneau Empire)

More in Neighbors

The Pinkas Synagogue, the second-oldest building in Prague. (World Monuments Fund photo)
Living and Growing: Connecting to family ancestors through names of strangers on a wall in Prague

“Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.” —… Continue reading

Individual eggplant parmesan rounds ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Individual eggplant parmesan rounds

These flavorful eggplant parmesans are a great side dish, especially served with… Continue reading

An aspiring knight relies on duct tape for his medieval battle gear during the Master’s Faire on July 16, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Gimme A Smile: Duct tape — an Alaskan’s best friend

Duct tape is an Alaskan tradition. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix… Continue reading

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Be a blessing

Years ago, I learned a great acronym, B.L.E.S.S. “B” stands for “Begin… Continue reading

Salad ingredients ready to assemble. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Mexican corn and bean salad

Several years ago, I ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Los… Continue reading

A new online dictionary features Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, Shm’algyack and English. (Mircea Brown / Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)
Neighbors: Sealaska Heritage Institute debuts multilingual online Alaska Native dictionary with audio

Platform includes resources for Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Brent Merten is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Juneau, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. (Photo courtesy of Brent Merten)
Living and Growing: Your room is waiting

Thursday, May 9, is a very special day. Although most calendars don’t… Continue reading

The interior of the Pipeline Skate Park on Dec. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Join interactive design meeting for Jackie Renninger Park on May 21 CBJ… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Living and Growing: Twisting Scripture to suit themselves

Ever wonder why so many different people say so many different things… Continue reading

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

Sister Sadria Akina, Elder Tanner Christensen and Elder Bronson Forsberg, all missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, collect litter on April 22, 2023, in the Lemon Creek area. It was their first time partaking in Juneau’s communitywide cleanup. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Annual Litter Free citywide cleanup on Saturday Saturday is set for Litter… Continue reading

Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Tortilla beef casserole for Cinco de Maya

When my kids were growing up their appetites were insatiable. Every night… Continue reading