Halloween itself may be a somewhat bigger deal in the US than the UK but the tradition of gourd carving actually dates back to 17th century England, Ireland and Scotland where turnips and potatoes were carved out to ward off evil spirits during Samhain, and later All Souls Day. The origins of the term Jack-o’-Lantern (the name given to carved pumpkins and gourds) is debated – some say it stems from the folkloric tale of Stingy Jack while others say it refers to a ‘foolish fire’, the strange ghostly light often seen flickering over peat bogs in rural England on dark Autumnal nights.
One of things I enjoy seeing most on Halloween is the glow of hollowed-out orange globes, flickering gently in the dark on people’s doorsteps and windowsills.
I am also more and more impressed each year by the level of creativity that people invest in their carving but if like us, you’re too time-pressed to come up with one of these or create your own version of playable Pumkin Tetris – Pumktris – there are some quicker and easier ways to create an effective design.
It may not be the Great Jack-o’-Lantern Blaze but pumpkin picture sculpting is easy to do and if you’re fed up with the usual gap toothed horror motifs, it allows you to be more experimental with your designs.
Picture Scultping: after you’ve scooped out the pumkin’s insides (which is unavoidable I’m afraid), use a pen knife or similar to sculpt a picture directly onto the pumpkin (removing the outer skin, rather than carving whole chunks out). This will create pretty pictures which glow from the outside when a tea light is placed inside. We went for an autumn tree, some stars and a homage to our orange gold fish Clyde:
See Quaint Living for some lovely maritime themed design ideas for your pumpkin.
You can then use the carved out flesh to make a warming Pumkin soup*. See here for a quick and easy recipe.