We all see pumpkin carving as a Halloween tradition. It is a time where we can put our own artistic spin on an old custom, and have lots of fun while doing it. But do we really know how these customs started?
Pumpkins were originally carved from gourds and turnips. They were placed on porches and windows in order to welcome deceased loved ones, and they were also said to keep away evil spirits. In order for the pictures to be visible at night, people placed burning lumps of coal in their turnip or gourd. The burning lumps of coal were soon replaced with lit candles.
It is said that the origin of carving jack-o-lanterns for this holiday originated in Ireland, and that the scary faces were carved to frighten people. Halloween did not really catch on here in America until the late 1800s. It has been celebrated ever since. Many people who migrated here from Europe or other countries found the pumpkin to be larger and easier to carve. These people brought their traditions here to America, and thus, the pumpkin carving tradition began.
Today, pumpkin carving has evolved into somewhat of an art. We see people carving elaborate jack-o-lanterns with intricate detail. We have moved on from just carving two eyes, a nose, and a mouth – people today are carving anything ranging from celebrities to movie characters with great skill. However, pumpkin carving wasn’t always for this purpose of glory and bragging rights. So when you put your pumpkins out tonight, whether they be simple or complex, you will know how this classic Halloween tradition came about.