Celebrating Pumpkin Power

Pumpkin is really just another word for autumn.

The color, the smell, and the taste conjure up all kinds of beautiful fall images.

Pumpkin spice (dairy-free!) lattes.

Halloween Jack O'LanternPumpkin scented candles.

Pumpkin cookies.

And of course, that carved pumpkin on your doorstep: the ultimate symbol of Halloween.

There is nothing quite like a pumpkin.

And nothing quite like Carve a Pumpkin Day–which we are here to celebrate today!

Where Did Carve a Pumpkin Day Come From?

large orange pumpkinYes, that is right.

There is an official day dedicated to carving pumpkins, and it falls annually on October 31st – aka Halloween.

During this season, carved pumpkins sit on the front porches and doorsteps of houses around the country.

The story behind the time-honored pumpkin carving tradition comes from an Irish folk tale.

According to Irish legend, the carved pumpkin, otherwise known as the Jack-O’-Lantern, originates with a man named Stingy Jack – a rather unpleasant fellow who was well-known for playing tricks on people.

As the folk tale goes, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. He did not want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin. Once the Devil did that, Jack decided instead to keep the money which meant the Devil was trapped.

Eventually, Jack freed the Devil only to trick the Devil again the following year into climbing a tree. Once up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark, so the Devil was ‘stuck’ once again. They ultimately reached a deal where the Devil could come down if he promised not ever to send Jack to Hell.

When Jack finally died, God showed displeasure at his antics by preventing him from entering into heaven. Good to his word, the Devil also did not claim Jack’s soul and instead set Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way.

Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and (according to the legend) he has roamed the Earth endlessly ever since.

Thus the name ‘Jack of the Lantern’ or simply ‘Jack O’Lantern’ was born.

So this folk tale is the reason why the Irish began to carve Jack-O’-Lanterns out of potatoes or turnips on Halloween. And when Irish immigrants arrived in America in the 1800s, they exchanged their potatoes and turnips for pumpkins since they were far easier to carve.

Tips for Carving the Perfect Pumpkin

If you are looking to carve the best pumpkin this year, here are a few of our favorite pumpkin carving tips:

  • Jack O'LanternPick a Good One: Choose a pumpkin without bruises or soft spots, and be sure that when you tap on it, it sounds hollow. This will give you the best starting point for carving.
  • The Stem Should Be Attached: Leaving the stem on will keep the pumpkin looking fresher for longer.
  • Store with Care: Put your pumpkin in a cool, dry place to prolong its life both before and after carving.
  • Map It Out: To plan out where you will carve the Jack-O’-Lantern’s face, use washable markers so your sketches can be easily erased.
  • Be Patient: Wait to carve your pumpkin so it will last longer and be beautiful on Halloween!
  • Save the Seeds: Remember to save your pumpkin seeds and roast them in the oven. Pumpkin seeds are both delicious and healthful.

How Should You Celebrate Carve a Pumpkin Day?

Dr. Rosane Oliveira and Perfect Pumpkin BreadLooking for some fun ways to celebrate fall, pumpkins, and Halloween on this Carve a Pumpkin Day?

Give some of these great ideas a try:

  • Experiment with a New Design: Do you usually carve scary pumpkins? Create a comical one instead this year. Switch it up a little.
  • Host a Pumpkin Carving Party: It is more fun to carve pumpkins with friends! This year, host a get-together and have everyone carve their own pumpkin. You could even make it a contest and reward the one who creates the best pumpkin.
  • Make a Seasonal Recipe: What better excuse to prepare an awesome pumpkin recipe than Carve a Pumpkin Day? Give my delicious and healthful Perfect Pumpkin Bread recipe a try.  It is one of my favorites, and I know you will love it too!

However you choose to celebrate, have a wonderful and safe Carve a Pumpkin Day.

And remember: pumpkins can be enjoyed all year round!