A little jack-o-lantern history before diving right into the juicy pumpkin carving steps…
For most of the general population, October 31st is known as Halloween, it is a night for dressing up, telling ghost stories, having spooky parties, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving.
What most people don’t know is that Halloween is actually based on an ancient Celtic holiday know as Samhain (pronounced “sow wan”), which means “summer’s end”.
Celebrated for centuries, by the Celts of old, Witches and many other nature based religions, it is the most magical night of the year. It is the Witches New Year, and the Last Harvest. Although the religious significance of it has passed for the general public, Halloween is a magical night for all!
On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later replaced by candles.
Fun Fact: Pumpkins are NOT a vegetable – they are a FRUIT! Pumpkins, like gourds, and other varieties of squash are all members of the cucurbitacae family, which also include cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.
What you will need to get started…
- A Pumpkin (obviously!)
- Sharp Knife
- Spoon or Ice Cream Scoop
- Stencil or pattern (for more advanced patterns)
- Permanate marker (if drawing on the face before cutting)
- Tape (if using a stencil)
Carve a Pumpkin the right way in 5 easy steps…
1. Cut an opening in the top of the pumpkin. Make sure the hole is big enough that you can clean out the pumpkin easily. Save the piece you cut out to use as a lid. IMPORTANT: Make sure when you are cutting out the lid that you slant your knife inward on an angle. If you cut strait down, your lid will fall inside your pumpkin when you try to put it back on. I’ve done this before! Also, you can cut a knotch into the lid so you will know which way it goes back on.
2. Clean and scrape the inside using a spoon or icecream scoop. Once all the seeds and insides have been removed. Check out the spot your candle will sit, you may need to scrape it to make it flat if you are using a tea light or make a hole for your candle to sit in.
3. Draw a face onto the pumpkin so you know where to cut OR tape a pattern onto the pumpkin and use a poker to transfer a design. Using the poker, poke through the paper making dots along each outline on the pattern. Then remove the pattern. (save it and refer to it while you are carving.
4. Use a knife or saw (you can purchase special pumpkin carving tools), to cut out your pumpkin face. Always hold your cutting tool at an upright angle to the pumpkin.
5. Cut a chimney hole in the lid of your pumpkin. To find the perfect spot… Light the candle inside, put the lid on for a few minutes and then blow out the candle. Lift the lid and look for a blackened spot, cut a small hole there, it will let the smoke and heat escape while your candle is lit.