Carving out time with family
By Bryan Goodland; photo courtesy of the Macklin family
Holidays are all about family traditions, and with Halloween just around the corner, it is time to gear up for the onset of the holiday season that will be upon us until the New Year bells of 2021 ring. Engaging in the tradition of pumpkin carving is a great way to keep families connected generation after generation.
There is a storied history on how we started trekking out to fields to select pumpkins for carving. Carving pumpkins originated in Ireland and was brought to America by Irish immigrants during the potato famine. The immigrants told the story of Stingy Jack, a man who was said to have tricked the devil and lived an unsavory life. Upon Jack’s death, God wouldn’t let him into heaven and the devil wouldn’t let him into hell. His soul was to end up roaming the Earth for his misdeeds. As the story goes, the devil gave Jack a piece of coal to light his way and he put it into a turnip – a “jack-o’-lantern.” In Ireland, children carried on this tradition by putting candles in turnips and potatoes just like Jack.
In America, that tradition has developed into an art form. From the rudimentary face that the Peanuts gang drew on the back of Charlie Brown’s bald head in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, to the elaborate pieces of art that require stencils and fine carving tools, cutting open a pumpkin, pulling out the stringy seeds, designing a face, lighting it, and placing it on your front porch, pumpkin carving is a tradition that is here to stay.
First, you will need to get a pumpkin. They can be found at any grocery story or pumpkin patch in the area. Next, grab a marker and sketch your design and don’t forget a pumpkin carving kit or a knife. A Dremel or other similar power tool can also help make the cuts. Another helpful tip is to buy two pumpkins at the same time; one to practice on, and one for the finished product. If you have small children, this method works great in case wrong cuts are made and tears are spilled over the end result. Remember, the point isn’t to create a prize-winning pumpkin, but to spend time with family creating traditions while celebrating Halloween.
For getting started with pumpkin carving, visit
For ideas and patterns for your jack-o’-lantern, visit
For pumpkin carving patterns and templates, visit https://www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-carving/.