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)

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