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Origin of Jack-o-Lanterns | How To Carve a Pumpkin


Ah, yes. The time-honored tradition of carving pumpkins, or jack-o-lanterns. (Or, do you call your pumpkin a “punkin'”?) No matter what you name it, many of us spend the time around Halloween trying to transform our plain pumpkin into an award-winning (in our minds) jack-o-lantern.

Have you ever wondered why we spend time carving a face into pumpkins? I mean, it is an unusual tradition. So, it led me to do a little research.

History of Jack o Lanterns

According to History.com, “the practice of decorating ‘jack-o’-lanterns’—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas.”

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They carved these pumpkins and then lit them in hopes of warding off evil spirits.

When the Irish came to America, they brought the pumpkin carving tradition with them.

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Have you noticed that pumpkin carving is on steroids now? Gone are the days of hacking away at the pumpkin with a semi-sharpened knife from the kitchen drawer (like in the ’70s when I was a child). Now, there are special tools and carvers for pumpkins. And, people are even using power tools for their pumpkins. Last year, my husband used a drill on our pumpkin. A DRILL, PEOPLE.

So, what is really the best way to carve a pumpkin? The most basic thing is that you need to have your pumpkin and a great cutting utensil (a sharp knife or grab a pumpkin carving kit). However, how you start carving your pumpkin will depend on your design preference. Most of us cut a circle around the top of the stem–the lid–and then use our hands, a scoop or a big spoon to scoop out the “guts” and pumpkin seeds. (Save the pumpkin seeds, they are awesome roasted!)

FROM OUR SISTER SITE: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipes

To get a face, you can use pumpkin stencils, draw right on the pumpkin or just free-hand cut right into the pumpkin if you’re really brave. Or, if you need more instruction or inspiration, here’s a great video:


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Along with being a contributor to PrimeParentsClub.com, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate. Founder and executive director of Monkey Do Project and co-author of 50 Shades of Frayed: What Happens When 'I Do' Becomes 'Not Tonight': A Humorous Mompilation.