Halloween Pumpkin Carving!
Origins and How to Carve a Jack 'O Lantern!
If you are not from the British Isles, you won't believe where your
hollowed out pumpkin comes from! In Ireland and Scotland hollowed-out turnips with embers or candles inside,
became a very popular Halloween decoration a few
hundred years ago. Baldrick would have met his dream! (Fans of "Blackadder"
will recognize this!) The English used beets (which they call
"beetroots"). Talk about doing things the hard way!
Tradition held that they would ward off Stingy
Jack and other malevolent spirits on Halloween, and they also served as
representations of the souls of the dead. Irish families who emigrated
to America brought the tradition with them, but they replaced the
turnips with pumpkins, which, native to the new world, were plentiful.
It didn't hurt that they are a lot
easier to carve than turnips. Have you ever tried to hollow out a
turnip? People began to carve frightening faces and
other designs into their jack-o'-lanterns.
The practice of carving turnips began with an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy
a famous cheapskate who, on several occasions, avoided losing his soul
to the devil by
tricking him (often on All Hallows' Eve). In one story, he
convinced Satan to climb up a tree for some apples, and then cut crosses
all around the trunk so the devil couldn't climb down. The devil
promised to leave Jack alone forever, if he would only let him out of
In another story, Stingy Jack invited the
Devil to have a drink with him. Of course, Stingy Jack didn't want to
pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin
so that Jack pay for their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided
to keep the money! He put it into his pocket next to a silver cross,
which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.
Jack eventually freed
the devil, again with the same promise not to
take his soul.
eventually died, he was turned away from Heaven, due to his life of sin.
But, in keeping with their agreement, the Devil wouldn't take Jack,
either. He was cursed to travel forever as a spirit in limbo. As Jack
left the gates of Hell, the Devil threw him a hot ember to light the way
in the dark. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out turnip, and
wandered off into the world. According to the Irish legend, you might
see Jack's spirit on All Hallows' Eve, still carrying his turnip lantern
through the darkness.
The Irish began to refer to this eerie figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then,
just "Jack O'Lantern."
Click here for a web page that has the complete Stingy Jack story!
- Pumpkins are fruits, a type of squash
cucumbers, squashes and melons.
- Pumpkins are
native to North America and have been domestically grown there for five thousand years.
- In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the Saint
Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons"
(large melons). The
translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the
- Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber.
They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and
- The largest pumpkin ever grown was
over 1100 by a man in Ohio, in 2000.
- Pumpkins require
a long hot growing season and loads of humus, manure and water.
directions on how to carve your pumpkin, click here for
Pumpkin Carving 101
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