Artists use an amazing array of materials to create their art. Gourds are no exception – especially pumpkins for Halloween!
The idea of the Jack O’Lantern and pumpkin carving is derived from Irish folklore. The basis of the mythical stories center around an Irishman nicknamed Stingy Jack who played tricks on everyone, including the devil. The Devil had to promise him that he would never take his soul. After he died, Jack was not allowed into heaven (apparently the Deviil wasn’t the only one Jack had offended), so Jack wanders alone with an ember of eternal flames from hell to walk with. He carved a turnip and placed the light inside of it to help him as he wandered through the darkness for eternity. People began carving scary faces and characters on different vegetables holding burning coals for protection against the dark spirits, just like Stingy Jack. After people started immigrating to America, they discovered that pumpkins were easier to carve and candles replaced coal.
Today, pumpkin carving is becoming a recognized art form requiring numerous tools, techniques, and carving competitions. Luckily, it is also a wonderfully fun past time to enjoy with friends and family. (The roasted seeds are delicious too!)