Sunday, October 29, 2006
It's Halloween on Tuesday! Have you all gone out and gotten your pumpkins yet? Better go and get that done, then come back and read on. I've got a few cool ideas for a different type of face for ole Jack this year.
For those unfamiliar with the Halloween history and those thinking "Who is Jack?", allow me to explain.
This is not something that originated in the USA as some might think. As a matter of fact, Halloween originated among the Celts in Ireland and in Northern France as the Pagan Celtic harvest festival, Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, the day marking the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. The general belief was, on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On October 31 they celebrated Samhain, believed to be the night when the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Celts thought that the presence of these spirits made it easier for the Druids and their priests to make predictions about the future. These people were entirely dependent on the volatile natural world and such prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. During the Samhain festival, the Celts wore costumes and told each other's fortunes.
In the 19th Century the Irish immigrants to North America brought this tradition with them. In the 20th and the 21st century this festival is celebrated all over the world as a part of American pop culture.
Jack is the pumpkin carved for Halloween. Full name Jack O'Lantern. Irish legend tells us the story of a lazy but clever farmer called Jack. He tricks the Devil and refused to free him until the Devil agrees never to let jack into Hell when he dies. When Jack really died the Devil kept his promise and refused to let him into Hell. So, Jack carved out one of his pumpkins, placed a candle in it and wandered the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern". The term jack-o'-lantern actually means a night watchman or a man with a lantern.
Before the pumpkin became the trademark for Halloween it was associated with the harvest season in North America.
Right - close those History books and let's get to the fun part.
Get fresh pumpkins if possible. Straight off the vine are best, leaving a few inches of vine on the stem. After carving, your pumpkin will last 2-5 days before they start to shrivel.
Of course the usual face for Jack is a tradition, but how about trying out a few other ideas. Here are mine.
A pumpkin - I used a smaller one.
An apple corer
A sharp knife
A spoon or an ice cream spoon
Spread the newspapers across the table. Using the sharp knife, cut the top off of the pumpkin. Scoop out the insides into the bowl. Save the flesh and make a soup out of it. With the apple corer poke holes into the pumpkin, making a nice design. I tried to go for a little flower like pattern. Spray the insides with hairspray. This seals the pumpkin and it will keep a day or two longer.
I placed this on the window sill of my kitchen at first I used a small candle but then I had another idea. I had a small set of fairy lights (string of lights that you put on a Christmas tree) and placed those inside the pumpkin. A few of the bulbs, I stuck out of the holes. That looked amazing.
The Boo Pumpkin
A large pumpkin
A sharp knife
A spoon or an ice cream spoon
Spread the newspapers across the table. Using a sharp knife, cut the top of the pumpkin. Keep the design for the top simple. Scoop out the insides into the bowl keeping a 2 cm thick edge on the pumpkin. With the marker write the word "BOO" (or any other word). For beginners keep the letters as "squarish" as possible as it is easier to cut out. The inside of the letters - "B" "O" - can be fixed by inserting a toothpick on both sides and fixing it to the pumpkin. Spray a generous amount of hairspray to make the pumpkin last a few more days. Place a candle inside and "BOO" away everyone that comes over!!
If you've got your pumpkins carved out, leave a link to your photos in the comments of the box. It'll give us all more ideas for designs.
Check out Asha's great Spooktacular Halloween.
Happy Trick and Treating folks. Hope you have a great Halloween wherever you are.
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