Pumpkins for Halloween

pumpkins for halloween

Halloween, New Brunswick, Canada by New Brunswick Tourism is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Legends and Facts

Believe it or not, pumpkins were not the first choice for carving during Halloween. There is an old Irish legend about Jack, the drunkard farmer who made a deal with the devil. Once he died, old Jack was denied entry into both Heaven and Hell due to his dark agreements, so he had no choice but to travel across the world of lost souls. The surrounding darkness made his journey impossible, so Jack created a lantern using a piece of hot coal and a turnip. This allowed him to wander the dark world with a shed of light showing him the path. Traditionally, the Irish made turnips like Jack’s o’lantern with an intention to chase him and other lost souls away. The Celts, on the other hand, would welcome good spirits with these jack o’lanterns.

However, the great Irish immigration to America changed a few Halloween customs, such as replacing the famous turnip for pumpkin. Why? Because there were far more pumpkins than turnips in the U.S. back in the 18th century. On top of that, carving pumpkins is a lot easier compared to turnip carving, which turned out as a great choice. Fact is, the pumpkin business is worth over $100.000.000 each year on the North American continent, with more than one billion pounds of pumpkins produced. Another fun fact also good to know - pumpkins aren’t vegetables, as many of us would assume. They are fruits, part of the melon family.

How to carve a pumpkin

Carve pumpkin

Ike the Pumpkin by Sarah Clark is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Some people use various modern cutting tools to carve pumpkins for Halloween. However, the majority would agree the traditional way of reshaping these fruits is the best, as it involves actual fun in it. To make your own scary pumpkin this year, you will need the following ingredients and tools:

  • Large pumpkin
  • Fillet knife
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Dry erase markers
  • kitchen towel
  • Paring knife/pumpkin carving knife

It is wise to choose a big tall pumpkin because that way you’ll have more space to draw scary faces on. The point is to make it look as scary as possible, although funny-faced pumpkins aren’t that unusual nowadays. First, you’ll need to cut it open, either sideways or at the bottom. Draw a line with your marker resembling a circle or a square, whichever is easier for you to cut. Then, carefully use a paring knife to cut the bottom or side, removing ‘the lid’. Now you’ll need the ice cream scoop. Leave the lid aside and start cleaning the inside of all the seeds and fibrous strands. Once done, you’ll need to use the marker again. This time, draw scary faces big enough so that there’s enough light coming out of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Use a kitchen towel to clean your wet hands before touching any knives, and then grab whichever knife you think would be best to carve the pumpkin. Cut along the lines you drew before, a sharp paring knife is the best option. Finally, get rid of all the extra ‘skin’ on the inside, clean it off, place a candle inside, and close the lid. If there’s a lot of smoke coming out of the pumpkin, simply cut a small hole on the top to act as a chimney.