Discovering the origin of certain traditions always adds an interesting perspective to how these traditions define holidays. I have been curious, for instance, why pumpkins carving is done during Halloween. Many countries celebrate Halloween and Sweden is no exception. There have been a couple of Halloween parties at my university this last month in celebration of this. Therefore, when we were invited by the university’s international desk for a pumpkin carving session, I was beyond elated and planned not to miss it.
The history behind it
One of the first things I discovered was the origin of carving pumpkins. Even though this tradition originated from Ireland, Halloween is one of the most celebrated days in most parts of the world. It is believed to originate from the Samhain holiday. This marked the end of summer and signified the beginning of winter and a new year at that time (November). I must say, a lot has changed since I last gushed about the autumn weather. The days have become shorter and colder and the nights longer and windier. It is clear that the season is changing. It was believed at this time of the new year, dead souls roamed the earth and people wore masks to chase them away. Hearing about the story of the pumpkin cutting was interesting as well – how one Stingy Jack conned the devil, died, became a wandering soul after his death and how people carved scary faces on pumpkins to chase him away during the Halloween time. Now that we got the history part sorted out, let’s dive into my experience 😊
Getting our hands dirty
When invited for pumpkin cutting, avoid the rookie mistake of showing up empty-handed as I did. If your host did not explicitly mention that they were giving out some pumpkins, then you should bring your own. A friend of mine shared her pumpkin with me and this was all the luck I needed to get it going. We were so driven that we ended up carving out 2 faces on a pumpkin instead of one. Say you went out looking for a pumpkin to carve, in a world full of pumpkins, how do you know that this pumpkin is the one? I learnt that tapping and lifting them helps because you can tell if it is hollow or not. Of course, a bigger size is better because it allows you much more creative space. A perfect Halloween pumpkin would be hollow, light, with no spots and with a uniform colour.
The first step we had to do was to cut the top part of the pumpkin and remove the seeds. After that, we started looking out for inspiration online on how we wanted our pumpkin to look like. We settled on this big-eyed and small-mouthed version that reminded us of the joker. Carving takes a bit of patience especially if you were aiming for something meticulous. We each took turns to carve out the eyes and surprisingly enough, the gothic music in the background felt so mellow (Muhahaha!). Think of Cirice by Ghost.
After a couple of minutes, this was our end result 🙂 Later one everyone lit their pumpkins then the lights went off. I would like to believe Stingy Jack would have been scared. How did we score?