Pumpkin carvings as long as I can recall have always been associated with Halloween. As a kid, every house in the neighbourhood had at least one. But imagine my surprise when we lived in Asia and our Australian and New Zealand friends thought the tradition was weird or off-putting! According to Britannica, Halloween is based on the Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Britain and Ireland. It marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on November 1. It was believed that during Samhain the souls of those who had died that year traveled to the otherworld. The other souls would return to visit their homes. Jack-o’-lanterns originated from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his monetary gain. When Jack died, God didn’t allow him into heaven, and the Devil didn’t let him into hell. So Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity. In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul. When Irish immigrants moved to the U.S., they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins. These were native to the region.
In the 8th century CE, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day, a day celebrating the church’s saints, to November 1. This meant that All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) fell on October 31. Traditions from Samhain remained, such as wearing disguises to hide from the souls wandering around your home. The folklore about Stingy Jack was quickly incorporated into Halloween, and we’ve been carving pumpkins—or turnips—ever since. And there you have it.
you will need
black sharpie marker
black spray paint
Clean pumpkin. Spray paint pumpkin black. When dry, use white paint to make eyes and mouth. When this is dry, use a black marker to paint dots for the eyes. For the cat pumpkin, sketch an outline and fill it in with a wide tip black permanent marker. Use white paint for the eyes and a black marker to dot the eyes.
the culinary chase’s note:
Because these are so cute, you may want to bring them in at night if placed outside your front door. Mine were outside for all of 10 days when someone decided they’d look better at their place! Lesson learned.