Carved Halloween pumpkins for the night of the witches have long been a symbol of the October 31st celebration, even here in Italy. Today, we will talk about the origins of Halloween, its birth, its legend, and we will explain how to carve a pumpkin to transform it into a monstrous lantern. All accompanied by some colorful Halloween photos. On the other hand, the carving of Halloween pumpkins has always been a mysterious ritual, capable of making the atmosphere of this Celtic festivity unique, which was born on the eve of All Saints’ Day (hence the name “All Hallow Eve”).
Through these Halloween photos, as we said, we will show you the images of the pumpkin carving process.
The origins of Halloween
This brief research on Halloween begins with its birth.
It is generally believed that the origins of Halloween are all American. We grew up with the myth of the night of the witches and the trick-or-treating duo, omnipresent in overseas films.
In reality, it is not so. The night of the witches, in fact, has its origins in the Old Continent. Specifically, it was born among the ancient Celtic populations.
For these people, October 31 represented the end of summer. Let’s see below the Celtic customs, legends, and origins of Halloween, starting from the so-called Samhain.
The Celtic people and the deities
The Celtic people mainly lived off agriculture (definitely organic!). Therefore, it was their duty to thank the deities at the end of the summer season for the good harvest outcomes.
It was also a pagan belief that on the night of October 31st, the world of the living and the world of the dead could come into contact. Thus, it was possible for spirits to visit the homes of farmers.
The Halloween lantern
Leaving lanterns outside their homes was useful to guide the spirits’ way. Hence the tradition of the Halloween lantern, which later evolved into the tradition of carving pumpkins.
For the sake of “hospitality” towards the souls of the other world, sweets were prepared and left outside the houses. All this was done to gain the favor of benevolent spirits. This tradition of sweets is the basis for the Americanized rite of the now-famous “trick-or-treat”.
The masks of Halloween
During the Halloween celebration, the interiors of humble Celtic homes were left as unwelcoming as possible. For example, the fireplace was extinguished.
The inhabitants also dressed up as monsters to discourage malevolent spirits from taking possession of their bodies.
So, this is the historical origin of Halloween, which, as we said, was called Samhain by the Celtic people.
But now, let’s see how this festivity was exported to the United States. Let’s talk about the legend of Jack o’Lantern.
The legend of Jack o’Lantern, or simply Jack the Lantern
It was the Irish, descendants of the Celtic people, who exported the traditional Halloween celebration to the United States with their migrations overseas at the beginning of the 20th century.
And they did it along with another legendary character: the drunken Jack o’Lantern.
Jack o’Lantern, the drunkard of the village
Jack o’Lantern was the drunkard of the village. He had sly, shady, reprehensible attitudes, and alcohol had been destroying his liver for some time. On All Saints’ Eve, on October 31st, death knocked on his door. Precisely, it was the devil himself who knocked. A somewhat gullible devil, if you will, indeed, a real simpleton.
The first encounter between Jack and the devil
According to the legend, the devil, before departing, granted Jack one last wish. Being a good drunkard, without much thought, he asked the lord of darkness to turn into a coin so that he could have one last drink. The devil agreed, but Jack, chuckling, didn’t spend the coin but kept it in his pocket, along with a crucifix. In this way, he kept the demon locked in the afterlife. In the end, after long discussions, he decided to set him free but imposed a condition: to let at least a year pass before returning.
The second encounter between Jack and the devil
The devil consented and allowed twelve months to pass. On his new visit, however, he was foolish enough to grant Jack a new wish. This time, he asked Jack to pick an apple from a tree to have one last meal. The devil agreed and climbed to the top of an apple tree. At that point, the drunkard blocked him on the tree by carving a cross on the trunk. Once again, the devil was forced to make a deal with Jack to be set free. The devil promised him that he would not seek his soul for at least 10 years, but the man demanded and obtained from the demon to be left in peace forever!
Jack continued to lead a dissolute life marked by alcohol, which ultimately led him to die, probably from liver cirrhosis. But once he died, his problems began.
The drunkard’s soul, in fact, presented itself in Paradise, but from there, naturally, it was cast out. It then arrived at the gates of Hell, where he met his old acquaintance: the devil. The agreements were that he would be left in peace forever, so the devil denied him access to hell. At that point, Jack had nothing else to do but start wandering in the afterlife. A continuous wandering without ever finding a place. A wandering illuminated only by the candle he had in his hand and that the devil himself had thrown away, contemptuously, to send him away from the gates of Hell. Jack put the candle in a big turnip he had with him and began his endless wandering. And this is where the legend of Jack o’Lantern originates.
The spread of the legend in the USA
When the Irish landed in the United States with all their legends and traditions, they had to make do as best they could. Many found it more convenient to make lanterns for Halloween night, the Halloween celebration, with pumpkins. The giant turnips, apparently, were not easily available in the United States.
From here, Halloween pumpkins began to enter popular American tradition and, later on, the tradition spread throughout the world. Today, the night of the witches has taken on overly commercial connotations.
Halloween photos and the carved pumpkin
Now let’s see a colorful photo gallery with the most beautiful Halloween pumpkins. We will also see how to carve a pumpkin to transform it into a lantern and then place it in our garden.
It cannot be denied that Halloween photos, especially those of carved pumpkins, have a certain charm. Pumpkin carving, over time, has indeed become a true art. Just look at the Halloween photos below to understand it.
In any case, basic pumpkin carving is a very simple and fun operation. With a little inspiration, you can get creative in a thousand ways. Let’s see how to proceed below.
Here are some Halloween photos, dedicated in particular to carved pumpkins.
How to carve Halloween pumpkins
Carving Halloween pumpkins involves a few simple operations. The first step is to clean the fruit from its sweet flesh. With these Halloween photos, we illustrate how to carve a pumpkin to place in the garden during the night of the witches.
Start by cutting off the top, which will then become the hat of our pumpkin face.
If you use a good-quality pumpkin, of course, the inside can be used to prepare a recipe. Another important thing to do is to preserve the seeds. Simply remove them, clean them from the pulp residues, let them dry, and store them in a dry place. They can later be used for consumption or for future cultivation.
After removing the pulp, you can start making a design with a marker on the pumpkin’s surface. This way, you will have references for carving.
This phase is a lot of fun and can be a great game to play with children.
At this point, you can proceed with the pumpkin carving using a small saw that will follow the shapes of the design.
You can really get creative and give our Halloween pumpkins a wide range of expressions, not necessarily evil ones.
The maximum scenic effect of the carved pumpkin, of course, will be at night when a candle of Jack will be placed inside. Naturally, the obtained lantern should be placed in a dark spot.
We hope you enjoyed these Halloween photos, and we take this opportunity to wish you a happy night of the witches.
- Michigan State University Extension: The article titled “Pumpkin carving: The history of the jack-o’-lantern” discusses the history and legends of this fall tradition of carving pumpkins.
- University of Kentucky: The article titled “UK folklorist explains the spellbinding history of Halloween” provides a look at the history of Halloween, including the origin stories behind mumming and the carving of pumpkins.
- Indiana University: The article titled “5 typical American Halloween customs explained” discusses why carved pumpkins are filled with candlelight and called “jack-o’-lanterns”, relating to an old legend.
- University of Illinois Extension: The article titled “Pumpkin History – Pumpkins and More” mentions that people have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries.
- University of Alabama: The article titled “The Pumpkins Have Eyes” talks about the Crimson Carving competition where creativity and knife skills are put to the test in carving pumpkins.
- The Whole U – University of Washington: The article titled “Celebrate Husky Halloween with The Whole U!” shares some Halloween stories and mentions the tradition of carving pumpkins.
- Washington State Magazine – Washington State University: The article titled “Coug-o-lantern” provides pumpkin-carving stencils of the WSU Cougar head logo for Halloween.
- University of Alabama News: The article titled “The Pumpkins Have Eyes” talks about the Crimson Carving competition where creativity and knife skills are put to the test in carving pumpkins.
- University of Rhode Island: The article titled “Happy Halloween” features carved pumpkins on the porch of URI President’s house.
- Exhibits – Florida Museum: The article titled “Legend of the Hidden Pumpkin” shares the Halloween spirit with carved pumpkins in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit.
- Kamehameha Schools: The article titled “KS Kapālama students and staffers celebrate Halloween” talks about a pumpkin carving competition with the theme, Hawaii Sports Legends.