Halloween has been observed for centuries.
Pumpkin carving began when the Celtics would carve turnips or gourds that they would display on their porch or windowsill to welcome deceased loved ones and act as protection against evil spirits. Before candles were used, they used burning lumps of coal.
Once European settlers came to American they found the pumpkin to be much more suitable for carving.
Some regard Halloween as some sort of devil worship.
Regardless of your beliefs about Halloween, it can still be a magically fun time for people of all ages. My advice is to not take it so seriously, lighten up, and just have fun with it. Look at it this way, It's a chance to decorate the yard, house, and dress up as some character or persona you'd like to be.
Chosing A Design & A Pumpkin
It's important to have a design in mind before shopping for a pumpkin. Some designs are better suited for round pumpkins while some are better suited for taller thinner pumpkins. There are tons of designs available. It's always a good idea to buy pumpkin design books in the clearance sales immediately following Halloween each year. That's when I've always purchased my carving tools and book designs since they are easily stored for the next year.
There are many free pumpkin carving patterns online. I have provided links below.
- If this is your first attempt at using a pattern, use an easy one. If your pattern requires some intricate carving I wouldn't even attempt it unless you have the pumpkin carving tools. Regular knives just aren't suitable for the task. The kits are relatively cheap and can be used year after year.
- Realize that carved pumpkins deteriorate quickly. If you create a masterpiece, take a photo of it while it's looking fresh. After a few days the edges begin to fold and wilt and it doesn't quite look as good. For this same reason, don't carve it too early for your party or Halloween night. Some people create several for this reason.
- Make sure the pumpkin you choose has a bottom that allows it sit upright properly. Sometimes the awkward sitting pumpkins make the cutest though.
- Never carry a pumpkin by its stem, the stems break off easily.
- Look for even color, no dents or scratches on your pumpkin. You don't want a bruised pumpkin.
How to Carve a Pumpkin
- Lay down some newspapers or a plastic bag to carve your pumpkin on
- With a long-bladed knife cut out the top of the pumpkin, making a multi-sided (5-6) angled cut. The hole you create should be large enough to easily get your hand in and out. Cutting the sides at an angle and having it multi-sided makes the lid easier to set back on the pumpkin and not fall through
- Using a large spoon, or the pumpkin scraper that comes in most kits, begin scraping out the inside of the pumpkin. This is the really slimy part. You need to remove all of the seeds and the stringy membrane from inside the pumpkin. Discard this onto the newspaper or bag.
- You can scrape away some of the meat of the pumpkin but don't overdo it. You don't want the walls of the pumpkin to become too thin.
- Trace your design on to the pumpkin or if you're using a kit they provide a punching tool that allows you to punch small dots that make it easier to cut dot-to-dot. You can also wing it and carve your pumpkin freestyle.
- Use the carving tools (little saws) to begin cutting out your design. Be careful around the areas where there isn't much pumpkin between two large cut out spaces.
- If your design doesn't look perfect, don't worry. Most imperfections fade away once the pumpkin has a candle in it and is sitting in a dark area. It safest to place a votive candle in a votive cup firmly in the bottom of the pumpkin.
How to Preserve a Carved Pumpkin
I've never tried this, but according to the PumpkinCarving101.com website, there are several techniques for preserving your carved pumpkin. Their suggestions are:
Soaking them in water overnight to rehydrate them and keep them from shriveling up.
Using a paper towel, coat all inside surfaces of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly immediately after carving
Refrigerated them helps if you have room
Purchase pumpkin dip and dip them in it every night
Purchase a spray-on Pumpkin preserver
Great Pumpkin Links & Tons of Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns Online
- Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns - Stencils and Patterns for Carving Halloween Pumpkins
Free patterns for carving Jack O' Lanterns or spooky scenes and creatures on your pumpkin for Halloween.
Lots of free patterns including some non-traditional pumpkin patterns of John Wayne, Steven Irwin, Johnny Cash, Jay Leno, George Carlin, animals, patriotic icons, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, and more!
- SpookMaster Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns for Halloween Jack O Lantern Carving, Painting, and Design
Free Halloween pumpkin carving patterns and a large selection of pumpkin carving templates for designing your own jack-o-lanterns, with instructions on carving and painting pumpkins with stencils.
- Pumpkin Carving Patterns
Directions for carving pumpkins and free printable pumpkin carving patterns.
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