Pumpkin Carving

The ancient art of pumpkin carving allows you to live out your brain and plastic surgery fantasies, all in the comfort of your home!

Just The Facts

  1. Pumpkin carving is an ancient tradition,
  2. People take this very seriously.
  3. Oh Christ, look at that shit...


Well, it's September, and according to the big chain retailers (and apparently the Cracked advertisers), Halloween is just around the corner. I'm sure we all loved Halloween as kids. I mean, for one, we got to dress up like a jackass once a year without any ramifications.

Except humiliation.

And second, we also got to take free candy for no good reason. But, as awesome as these things are, there is one part of Halloween that I always loved: pumpkin carving. Admittedly, I never did it very often, but when I did, it was so fun.

Anyway, no one cares about my childhood musings. Let's talk about pumpkin carving.

The Folklore

According to Irish folklore, the idea of carving into vegetables came from a guy named Jack. He was a swindler, and had recently conned some villagers out of money. At that same time, the Devil just happened to be looking for him.

What a coincidence!

The Devil wants Jack's soul. The ever crafty Jack asks the Devil to turn into a coin for Jack to pay the villagers. Then, the Devil can disappear later, and leave the villagers fighting over who took the coin. The Devil agrees and jumps into Jack's wallet.

"Sowms wike a pwam, Jack! HURR!"

Jack closed his wallet tight, trapping the Devil inside along with a cross he had. The Devil, stripped of his power, bargains with Jack, and decides not to take his soul in order to be freed.

Eventually, Jack dies. But, he is unable to get to heaven, since he lived a sinful life. And he can't go to Hell because of his deal. The Devil, always willing to rub salt in the wound, throws Jack an ever burning ember from Hell.

Jack carves a lantern from a turnip, and places the ember inside. Damned to walk the Earth until he finds a resting place, Jack becomes known as "Jack of the Lantern," or "Jack-o'-Lantern."

There are some variations, but the basic idea is that Jack tricks the Devil, and, inadvertently, damns himself for eternity.

The Tradition

Carving elaborate patterns into gourds has been around for thousands of years in Africa. However, the tradition of carving lanterns into vegetables originated in Ireland and Great Britian. Using turnips was the norm. They were meant to be placed on doorsteps on Halloween, in an attempt to ward off evil spirits, and keep them from causing mischief. A treat was also left to further persuade the spirits to stay away.

If I were a spirit and saw this on someone's lawn, I'd probably burn that house down.

When the tradition reached America, pumpkins were used instead, because they were easier to come by and easier to carve. The term "Jack-o'-Lantern" was first used in reference to carved pumpkins in America as well.

The Carving of Pumpkins Itself

Pumpkin carving is rather self explainatory. Just gut a pumpkin and carve a silly face in his little pumpkin rind. All you need is a big spoon and a knife, but they do sell kits designed specifically for this task.

A basic set.

An "Oh my God, I don't even know what half this shit is for!" set.

I classify pumpkin carving into three categories: "Basic Template Stuff," "Too Much Time on Your Hands," and "Okay, Fuck. Did I Really Just Do That, and Was It Worth It!?"

Basic Template Stuff

A common practice nowadays is to print off a template, tape it to your pumpkin, and carve out the shapes.

Nicely done!

Yes, Gizmo, always a winner.

These require little to no skill, but one can still pull off some cool stuff. Any idiot can do this, but it takes an idiot with...

Too Much Time on Your Hands

...to produce these.

At this stage one has gone from cutting out simple shapes to cutting out simple shapes at different depths to allow different amounts of ligh to get through and give the effect of different textures and colors.

While these are still quite awesome, one begins to wonder how devoted to your craft you have to be to create such elaborate things in a medium that may only last a week. However, these are nothing compared to pumpkins under the category...

Okay, Fuck. Did I Really Just Do That, and Was It Worth It!?

At this point, you've gone from hobby to obsession. I mean, look at this madness!

Big Cats!?


Fucking Predator!?

I won't deny that these are pants-creamingly awesome, but at a certain point, one seriously has to reconsider their agenda. I know Halloween only comes once a year, but in all honesty, who's gonna appreciate fine art when there's candy to be had?