Halloween - an ancient Celtic holiday – is popular all over the world.
To meet it head-on, it would be great to learn the history of the attributes of Halloween.
One of the main attributes of Halloween is pumpkin or so-called Jack-o-lantern.
Jack-o-lantern is a carved pumpkin with the candle inside of it. It’s a decoration that has long and interesting history. Jack-o-lantern is also a unique present that can be made by yourself for your friends or relatives. People usually place it on the doorstep or windows and believe that it protects them from evil.
So where this tradition is come from?
Tradition of carving the lantern of the pumpkin has a century-old history. According to one version it comes from the Irish legend about covetous Jack who could cheat the devil twice. And it both cases he got away with it.
Covetous Jack the smith liked to drink. In Halloween night he went to pub where he squandered all his money. This night Satan visited this pub. As far as Jack didn’t have any money he offered to exchange his soul for a mug of ale. The devil agreed and he had to turn into a coin in order to pay for Jack’s ale. Jack immediately took the coin and put it into the pocket where he kept a silver cross. The devil was trapped.
Finally, the devil secured the release. For this he promised not to damage Jack during the next year and not to pretend on his soul after his death.
For the second time crafty smith cheated the devil in another way. He asked the devil to climb a tree and tear fruit. As soon as devil climbed the tree the smith draw a cross on the tree trunk. In this way he got ten more years of carefree life.
He couldn’t use his privileges because in few months he suddenly died.
After death Jack was not welcome guest neither in heaven, nor in hell. The God saw his actions and didn’t want to take him into the heaven. And the Devil couldn’t take him to the hell because of their agreement. So standing on the threshold of hell Jack’s soul asked devil what he should do now. Satan told him to go away and never come back. In the darkness Jack had lost not only peace, but also the way that he came to the devil. Jack began to complain that the road is dark and he doesn’t have anything to highlight it. Then devil threw him a piece of coal. It didn’t stop to burn but didn’t give a new fire. Dead smith put smoldering coal into the carved turnip in order the wind blew it out the dim light of last hope and went away.
Until now a restless Jack’s soul travels along the ground and waiting for the Day of Judgment. Since that time he became a symbol of restless and damned souls. And since that time he is called Jack-o-lantern, in short of Jack of the Lantern.
Remembering this legend in Ireland and Scotland people carved scary faces out of turnips and potatoes which grew there in abundance. They placed inside the cinder and put the lamp-guardian on the window sills and front doors, in order to scare away the suffering soul of Jack and other evil spirits. In England large beet tubers were used for the manufacture of Jack-o-lantern.
These traditions are still alive. Nowadays in the UK Halloween is not as popular as in the US. There it was brought by Irish immigrants in XIX century. There are Irish customs quickly changed under the influence of the local culture. American version of the holiday appeared and the turnip was replaced by popular in those regions pumpkin. The orange Halloween symbol replaced its root crops predecessors.
How to make a lantern of the pumpkin?
Firstly, of course, you need a beautiful, fresh and big pumpkin. Secondly, a sharp knife with a thin blade, spoon with a sturdy handle, stencil and pen. And, of course, a candle that will be placed inside of the lantern.
So choose the pumpkin. Actually, its size doesn’t matter. If you live in the house, it will be better to buy a big one. But if you live in flat, the small one will be enough. You can do compositions of lanterns with different size. The color also doesn’t play a big role. The main condition is ripeness. The vegetable must be fresh and without rotten places. “Old” vegetable is also not good because in this case, its peel will be very hard for cutting.
As coals can be used ordinary candles. The candle will be placed inside of the orange Halloween symbol so nobody will see it and its form and color do not matter.
Then you need to cut a hole from above. It can be round, square, large or small in size, according to your wishes.
With the help of spoon winkle pulp and seeds out. You can use pulp in your cuisine – pies, soups, different desserts, etc.
Draw face on it. Make eyes, nose, mouth and teeth bigger because usually the peel is hard and you will need to cut it out.
At the bottom of the pumpkin make a small indentation for the candle in order to place it comfortable and not to allow it to fall.
Place the candle into the pumpkin and close the cap.
Be attentive and do not forget about fire safety rules. Do not place lanterns near flammable materials.
It can be a decoration for school party, for house, for workplace or just a present for someone. But it’s necessary to do it just before the event because in a couple of days your lantern begins to wither and to lose its attractive view.
If you want to make your party more interesting, you can make a competition for the best Jack-o-lantern. Nominations can be different: the biggest, the most terrible, the most beautiful, the funniest – depends on your imagination. And don’t forget about prizes for winners and participants.
As you see, pumpkin faces can be different – from horrible till funny. So turn on your imagination and create unrepeatable Jack-o-lantern.