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By Cara Beth Lewis

Fall is full of fun activities – from baking, to pumpkin-picking, to decorating, and choosing costumes. However, there is one Autumn activity that is arguably the most beloved, most practiced, and most popular: pumpkin carving.

Candle-lit pumpkins with spooky faces and designs are a sure sign of the Halloween season, and they have been for many years. “The practice of decorating jack-o’-lanterns originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as early canvases. In fact, the name, jack-o’-lantern, comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities,” according to History.com.

Pumpkin carving is practiced by both adults and children. It is an activity that sparks creativity, imagination, and taps into artistic abilities. You get to take an image in your mind and use it to transform your pumpkin into something much more eye-catching.

Check out these uniquely-carved pumpkins for inspiration: Pumpkin Carving Ideas – Good Housekeeping.

Photo from goodhousekeeping.com.

As mentioned above, Jack-o-Lanterns have a history. The tale of Stingy Jack is accredited for today’s Jack-o-Lantern and the tradition of pumpkin carving that has lasted for centuries.

The Legend of “Stingy Jack,” according to History.com:

“People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.”

“Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.” 

Pumpkin Carving Tips from BladenOnline: 

  1. Pick a good pumpkin. Before choosing your pumpkin, choose your design. Make sure the shape of the pumpkin will work with your design.

  2. Use a sturdy spoon or ice cream scoop to hollow out the pumpkin. Cleaning the inside of your pumpkin well will make it much easier to carve.

  3. When drawing the outline for your carving, use a dry erase marker so you can wipe off any errors.

  4. If you accidentally cut a piece of your pumpkin off that you meant to leave attached, you can use a toothpick to reattach it.

  5. Use a drill to carve your pumpkin instead of a knife.

    Check out our previous Fall in Bladen Series articles:

    Fall in Bladen Series: Halloween Costumes

    Fall in Bladen Series: Comfort Food

    Fall in Bladen: Decorating for the Season 

    Fall in Bladen Series: Fall Festivals in the Mother County