Halloween and pumpkins fit together just about as well as any two items. You can't have one without the other. Imagine a Halloween season without a jack-O-Lantern, or without a pumpkin patch or carving contest for that matter. And pumpkin-carving artists are many and varied, from beginners to professionals who wow us with their intricate and scary and often whimsical designs.
This resource page is designed to provide you with a comprehensive look at the history, the mystery and the art of pumpkins and pumpkin carving. You find examples, how-tos, links to many resources for carving patterns, contests, and ideas related to the relationship of the wonderful orange globes and the Halloween season. So let's get started!
A Little History...A Lot of Fun!
To begin with, pumpkins, gourds, potatoes and turnips - all items that have been used as a canvass for carving images upon -- are generally ripe and ready for harvesting in the fall season. In other words, about the same time the Halloween season rolls around each year.
These fall foods are perfect for baking breads, making cakes, muffins, and soups -- and all other types of decorative and tasty dishes.
Carving of these items we most likely owe to the Irish! There's an old Irish legend about a man named Stingy Jack who invited the devil one fall afternoon to share a drink with him. At a local pub, Jack ordered the drinks, but didn't want to pay for them, so convinced the devil to turn himself into enough coin to pay the pub bill. But after agreeing, Jack decided to keep the coins in his pocket, and placed a silver cross in the pocket as well so the devil couldn't change back into his demoinic form.
After a while, Jack decided to let the devil out, but only if he agreed to leave Jack alone for at least a year, and promise not to take his soul if old Jack were to die.
The devil agreed, a year in time meaning very little to him. The following fall he returned to Jack's farm and jack once again out-smarted him by asking him to climb up a tree to pick a piece of fruit so Jack could make a
pie for the both of them. But while in the tree, jack carved a cross into the tree trunk and the devil was unable to get past it and climb down.
Once again Jack cut a deal with the devil, but this time he wanted a 10 year guarantee not to return in that time frame, and again, if Jack were to die, the devil wouldn't take his soul. The devil agreed having no other choice, but before the ten years went by old Jack passed away. But the Good Lord refused to let such a devious old man into Heaven and told the devil to take him instead.
The devil, unhappy with the pranster Jack, didn't want him either, so he banished him to walk the night forever more giving him nothing but a burning coal to light his way. Jack placed the coal inside a hallowed out gourd or turnip as the legend goes, and each fall, near Halloween, Irish country folk would see his eerie light in the distance, often in the forests or mountains of Ireland. Before long, they begin to carve scary faces in gourds and potatoes and beets themselves, to scare old Jack the pranster away. These lighted faces soon came to be called Jack-O-lanterns, and the name stuck in Irish folklore, and before long, the legend spread across to Scotland.
Irish and Scottisbh immigrants are credited with bringing the tradition to the Americas during the major immigration years of the 19th century, and it caught on quickly. From there, Americans embraced the art form and it has grown down the years to become what it has in modern times - a tradition for all ages to enjoy and admire. And today there are more than ever before each fall season.
Did you know that pumpkins are thought to be the product of North America? Most likely they were grown as early as 7,000 BC in Mexico where Nativre Americans used them for food...
Some of our favorite Jack designs from across the web
Coming Soon: Jack-O-Lantern patterns and guide resources you can use
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