Carving a jack o’ lantern out of a pumpkin is one of the oldest of All Hallows traditions. In actuality though, did you know that the practice began with carving out turnips, potatoes, and gourds? There were no pumpkins in Celtic Ireland where the tradition began centuries ago. It was when Irish settlers came to the new world and discovered the large orange gourd, which was much bigger and easier to hollow out and decorate, that carving pumpkins became part of the tradition.
And that’s your history lesson for the day. One we may elaborate on in a later post. Let’s get onto the fun part; How you go about carving a jack o’ lantern for All Hallow’s Eve
Picking Out Your Pumpkin
Whether you’re getting your pumpkin from a farm, produce stand, or grocery, the first step is picking out the perfect pumpkin. In most cases, bigger is usually better. The bigger the pumpkin, the bigger the jack o’ lantern, the more intricately you can decorate it, and the easier it is to better up your neighbors.
Because, as we all know, that’s what it’s all about. out decorating your neighbors. Why would people spend so much time, money, and effort on Halloween if it wasn’t to out-spook the neighbors? World wars have been fought over such things. Okay…okay…that may be a “bit” of an over-exaggeration here. I’m just picturing feuding neighbors loading up their wooden catapults with pumpkins, potatoes, and turnips. Gourd save the queen! (Bad Marty…so very bad, Marty!)
Anyway, after finding and acquiring the largest pumpkin, and hopefully a nice rounded and shaped one as well, nobody wants a pumpkin that looks like it needs Botox, your ready for the next step.
Just the Tip
Now that you have your pumpkin, it time to slice into that orange mother. Get yourself a nice thick and sharp carving knife from the kitchen, and follow the blind man. Things you never think you’re gonna hear in your life, right?
Now don’t go all Texas chainsaw massacre here, no matter how tempting it might be. You want to start by cutting a decent amount of the top of the pumpkin off of the top, around the stem. Don’t cut straight across or straight down when you do this unless you’re not planning on saving the top and replacing it on the top of your jack o’ lantern again.
You want to do it at an angle, so you can easily replace the top and it won’t fall off. Now, if you’re going for that ax-murdered, lobotomy appearance for your jack o’ lantern, have at it you twisted pscycho! We’re not going for pretty here either way.
After chopping the top of his head off, you’ll want to clean off any pumpkin seeds or spooge on the underside of the portion you’ve cut off. This will help the re-capping of the jack o’ lantern in the future. Again, if you’re planning on leaving a gaping hole in his head, and you can just dispose of his seedy cranium. Another sentence I never thought I’d be reciting in my life. Meh.
Can You Dig It?
Now’s the part that I usually left for my children to do when they were younger; Cleaning all the seeds and pumpkin spooge out of the pumpkin. I did this partly out of laziness, and partly so I could go bandage off any of my missing fingers from the first part of carving. In all seriousness though, I mostly did it to see their squeamish faces and listen to their squeals and groans about how gross it was scooping out all the innards of Mr. Pumpkin Head. Hey, it’s supposed to be fun for all ages, right?
Facing My Problems
After the kids have finished cleaning out the pumpkin, and you’ve gone through afterward and REALLY cleaned it out, it’s time to carve the eye, nose and mouth openings. Here’s where you’ll need a bit of a smaller knife, and a lot more creativity and finesse. Creativity, I have. I can imagine all kinds of spooky faces that can be intricately carved into the giant gourd, making Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa looking like a crack whore’s stoned selfie.
What I lack is the literal vision, mechanical dexterity, and talent of hand to accomplish such a feat. My masterpiece usually ends up looking just like that crack whore’s stoned selfie…if I’m lucky. My children have ended up with quite an embarrassing jack o’ lantern to display on our front porch most Halloween’s.
Set It Ablaze
No, I’m not talking about destroying the horrible evidence here and putting it out of its misery, I’m talking about putting some kind of light source inside of your jack o’ lantern to make it glow spookily in the dark. Almost any light source will do. Candles, tea lights, battery operated lights, or glow sticks. Uranium if ya wanna give those freaking treat or treaters cancer. It’s all up to you.
Just make sure to be safe and extinguish it or turn it off before bed. You may not mind giving those pesky trick or treaters what they deserve, but you don’t want your house burning down around you why you sleep, right? Happy Halloween!