Why do we Carve Pumpkins on Halloween & how to do it right?

Old Celts invented Halloween more than four thousand years ago but modern humans were the ones who gave birth to a whole new art related to this holiday – Pumpkin Carving. But why do we carve pumpkins?

Pumpkin Carving is a new art relating to Halloween
Halloween was invented more than 4000 years ago.

This art has reached global scales and is widely practiced on an annual basis as October 31st draws near. A knife, a candle, and a pumpkin are all ingredients required to make jack-o-lantern masterpieces.

Why Do We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween? Jack-O-Lantern

Jack was an Irish drunkard known as the biggest trickster of his time. One of his many nicknames was silver tongue as it was believed he was capable of talking out his way from any situation. Such rumors spread across the country to eventually reach the devil himself.

Satan and Jack-o-lantern: The Irish Drunker
Jack-O-Lantern

The lord of darkness did not believe in claims that a single human being is capable of achieving that degree of evilness and manipulativeness and decided to check it himself.

Satan laid alongside the road waiting for Jack to stumble upon him.

Sometime in the night while strolling to his home, Jack noticed a body lying next to the path. Soon he realized it was Satan and somberly acknowledged that his time has come to an end. His last wish was to go to the pub and drink a beer.

Satan accompanied him and ordered a bulk of alcoholic beverages.

When the time came Jack insisted to pay as he wanted to leave one honest deed behind, before going to hell. Since he had no money he asked Devil to transform into the coin with which he was going to pay.

When the prince of hell did so, Jack put the coin in his pocket where, soon after, he put crucifix. That stripped Satan of his ability to change form and trapped him in the shape he last took – shape of a coin.

It is how Jack made his first deal with the devil. Satan obliged not to touch him for the next ten years.

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When time passed and the prince of darkness reappeared Jack said he wants to eat one last apple. However, since he got old he couldn’t climb up on the tree, Jack asked Satan to do it for him.

While soon to be again tricked devil made his way up through the branches Jack encircled tree with crucifixes.

Again Satan was forced on a deal, only this time it meant promising to leave Jack for eternity.

When Jack died he went to heaven but St. Peter forbid him to enter. Then, having nowhere else to go, Jack tried to enter hell. There, he stumbled upon the trap of his own deal. The devil couldn’t let him in.

Pumpkin and the Satan Story
Satan & the Halloween.

Jack was condemned to roam between the worlds of good and evil. However, Satan felt pity for Jack and gave him an ember so he could light his way.

In order to preserve fire, Jack made a whole in turnip and put the ember inside. This helped him protect himself from between world abominations that lurked from the dark. That is how the custom was born.

In the beginning, Irish were leaving carved turnips with an ember inside at their doorsteps and edges of windows to scare other side abominations away. However, moving to the new world which was plentiful with pumpkins interfered in their national culture.

When the Irish migrated to the U.S. turnips were replaced for pumpkins which were bigger and both easier to curve and place the flames inside.

7 Tips to Carve Pumpkins – ‘The Right Way’

After knowing the story of why we carve pumpkins, it’s time to learn how to do it properly. One of the most important things for carving a breathtaking pumpkin is to make a plan.

carve pumpkins for halloween
Here are 7 tips to carve pumpkins.

Carving Plan

You should not just randomly cut with your knife and let the piece of art be determined just by what comes out of it.

The solution in which you print a few pictures of your choice and wrap them around pumpkin is much superior in a matter of the final result. Therefore, before you make your first cut be sure to know the exact shape of what you want to carve.

Don’t Discard Odd Shaped Pumpkins

By their shape, pumpkins are expected to be ball alike. However, cylinder form is, by all means, capable of providing a perfect basis for a scary masterpiece.

Carve Quick

Let the planning take the most of your time. The moment you take a knife and start curving, you must be quick.

Pumpkins are perishable food items and therefore a very demanding material when it comes to the skill of the artisan.

Pumpkins can last a very long time, but after being cut the rotting can start in just a few days. However, the precise time in which decomposing will reach intolerable degrees cannot be precisely stated.

There are cases of carved pumpkins lasting for more than three weeks.

Professionals start carving 24 hours in advance and sometimes dedicate even ten hours to one pumpkin. As for the dilettantes, the recommendation is to start two to three days in advance.

Hydrate Your Pumpkin

While curving you should not forget to provide your pumpkin with water. When compared to apples and avocado, pumpkins are featured by very slow oxidation.

This makes changes that occur in their structure much bigger and can result in ruining your work. It is the reason why, during the process of carving, professionals spray it with water all the time.

Don’t Take Pumpkin’s Hat

This is the most common mistake made by dilettantes. The main reason for this act to be considered for wrongdoing is not just the damage implemented to the pumpkin’s structure.

When the top is cut, pumpkin is ripped off its vein. A vein has a role of supplying pumpkin with nutrients and moisture before it gets dried out.

Pull Everything Out

You must not leave any pumpkin goop inside the pumpkin. If not removed on time, the remaining pieces are going to get moldy and the decay will soon spread to the walls of the pumpkin.

Scrape walls and try to remove every stringy. The thinner the walls the drier they are going to be and it will take more time before their breaking starts.

Electricity Rather Than Fire – Cold is Good

When it comes to lights use bulbs instead of candles. But not regular bulbs because, like candles, its usage will result in producing the heat. Pumpkins need to be preserved cold as much as it is possible.

Therefore, bulbs that produce little to no heat are a must. In addition to this, the best place to keep pumpkins before their usage is the refrigerator.

1 Comment

  1. Ivan Lain

    I can’t wait for Halloween… Cheers

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