This year’s mangold-growing contest and hurling event at Orchard Park Garden Centre, Gillingham, Dorset was held on Halloween, so what better time to revive the old Somerset tradition of Punkie Night? (The answer is 29th October, because Punkie Night is on the last Thursday of the month.)
The origins of Punkie (or Punky) night are uncertain, but it has been a tradition in parts of Somerset for as long as anyone can remember. It involves making jack o’lanterns from carved mangolds, similar to the American tradition of carving pumpkins. Children sometimes carry them around and demand money with menaces, again similar to the American tradition of trick or treat.