[part 1 - the turnip] [part 2 - the potato]
[part 3 - the beet] [part 4 - the gourd]
Pumpkin Jack wasnít
always Pumpkin Jack, and Halloween wasnít always Halloween. This
celebration of the macabre began as a pagan festival called Samhain,
when Celts would walk around with various root vegetable lanterns to
guide the roaming dead to the next world. They also carved spooky
faces into them (the lanterns, not the dead) to keep malignant
It soon became tradition to carry these lanterns from door to door
and ask for offerings for the benign spirits, but since they didnít
have candy back then, they got other stuff instead. Like, I suppose,
barley, sheep fat and yet more root vegetables.
Now, at first, these lanterns werenít pumpkins at all. You may have
heard of the turnip lanterns of old, but there were many, many more
variations. So this Halloween, I embarked on extensive research on
this topic and studied the many forms of the Jack-O-Lantern. I will
also actually attempt to carve all of these and post a series of
short reports here on I-Mockery.
First up is the
aforementioned turnip. Iím not sure how big they were back in their
heyday, but the ones I found at the greengrocerís werenít what I had
hoped for. They certainly were turnip-shaped, but I must say I
remember the turnips of my childhood being larger than this.
Since I was born and
raised in Europe, I have never in my life carved a single pumpkin.
In fact, I never even saw a pumpkin before I was 12. But I assume
their soft pumpkin flesh must be easier to carve than the wooden
meat of my turnip. Iím not sure which tools the pagans used to carve
these things, but I soon figured out everything would go much
smoother with a spoon than with a knife. This also gave me a quick
and healthy snack while I was watching TV.
Once the root was
hollowed out, I decided to carve a generic smiley face into it.
Better not get too ambitious in my first attempt at lantern craft.
My research gave me no
answers when it came to what kind of candle I was supposed to fit
into my lantern, or if the old Celts and Irishmen used candles at
all. For all I know, they just threw a wick in there with some cod
oil. I settled for birthday candles. I know what burning cod
oil smells like.
In the end, I think my
turnip lantern turned out alright. It glowed eerily for such a small
thing, and upon closer inspection I noticed my camera had caught it
trying to murder me with its laser vision. The spirit of Halloween
obviously deemed it worthy of demonic possession. I deem my first
experiment a success.
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