What is Halloween?
Halloween takes place on the 31st of October and can be traced back to a Celtic festival that celebrated the end of summer and the harvest. During the festival the Celts wore costumes made from animal heads and skins, which is where the modern tradition of dressing up as horror characters comes from. During the spread of Christianity in the 9th Century, the celebration became merged with All Saints Day, or All Hallows, which takes place on the 1st of November. Over time “All-Hallows-Eve” became known as Halloween.
The History of Pumpkin Carving
A carved pumpkin has become an essential part of any Halloween celebration. The tradition stems back to a story about a villain called Stingy Jack who was not allowed into either Heaven or Hell. Instead, the Devil gave him a burning ember which he put into a turnip and used as a lantern to light his way as he wandered for all eternity. As a result of the myth of Stingy Jack, turnips or large potatoes were often carved with scary faces and became known as Jack O’ Lanterns. They were put in windows or outside doors to scare off evil creatures and spirits on long winter nights. It was soon discovered that pumpkins made excellent lanterns, and are abundant at Halloween.
Carving your own Jack O Lantern
Making a Halloween Jack O Lantern is great fun and very easy to do.
- With a sharp knife, cut the top off of the pumpkin - take care not to cut yourself; ask an adult to help if necessary.
- Scoop out the seeds and fleshy innards, scraping out as much as possible with your hands or a table spoon.
- Draw eyes, a nose and a mouth on the outside of the pumpkin using a felt tip pen. Make it as scary as possible!
- Cut out the shapes with a sharp knife – again, be careful or ask an adult to help.
- You can use the bits you cut out to make a delicious Pumpkin Pie.
- Spread some cooking oil or petroleum jelly on the parts that you have cut out. This will help your lantern to last longer.
- At dusk, take your lantern outside and carefully light a sturdy candle or tea-light inside it.