Monday, September 19, 2016

O Great Pumpkin, Where Are You?

This site is dedicated to Linus' annual quest to see, and to get others to believe in, the Great Pumpkin.  Join us every day from September 23 through October 31 as we look back on how Halloween was celebrated in Charles Schulz' comic.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the TV special, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". How did the comics influence the TV special?

Will Linus ever get to see the Great Pumpkin?

Who did Linus enlist to help him convince others to believe in the Great Pumpkin?

Who sat in the pumpkin patch with Linus?

Will Linus ever go trick-or-treating instead of waiting for the Great Pumpkin?

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time before the Great Pumpkin was even a twinkle in Linus Van Pelt's eye.  In fact, it wasn't even a twinkle in Charles Schulz' eye when "Peanuts" was introduced to the public. It was just another "wild idea" that Sparky came up with after he introduced Linus' character.

"Peanuts" first appeared in American newspapers on October 2, 1950, but it wasn't until the following year that Charles Schulz' characters began to celebrate Halloween.  With few exceptions, Halloween and, eventually, the Great Pumpkin, were a part of "Peanuts" from 1951 until its last original comics ran in 1999.

Schulz explained that the and Linus came up with the idea of the Great Pumpkin together, since his thumb-sucking philosopher "is a youngster to whom everything must have significance--nothing is unimportant.  Christmas is a big holiday, and it has Santa Claus as one of its symbols.  Halloween is also a special kind of day, so it ought to have some sort of a Santa Claus also.  This is what bothered Linus. As a matter of fact, it bothered me, too.  So between us we came up with the Great Pumpkin."

In a later interview, Charles Schulz described the Great Pumpkin's origins in a more down-to-earth way:  "That came to me while I was sitting at my desk in Minneapolis trying to think of a holiday angle and came up with the idea of a kid getting a holiday ahead of himself. That's what happened with Linus.  He started thinking of Halloween in terms of Christmas.  I tried to figure what a kid like that would do about writing a letter to Santa Claus.  He'd have to come up with some substitute.  That's when I came up with the idea of the Great Pumpkin."

Don't worry, this site is strictly non-denominational:  we won't get into the Santa Claus vs. Great Pumpkin debate (although we know who would win, don't we?).  We're just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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