Friday, October 31, 2014

To Make a Jack-o'-lantern

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to carve a pumpkin at a school event.  I was helping man the "pumpkin patch" while students cycled through two different hour-long sessions.

It's been a few years since I've last carved a pumpkin and as I surveyed the room, I was struck by how silly it might seem for someone who does not celebrate Halloween or even know much about it.  Why do we make Jack-o'-lanterns?  At the moment, I could go look up the history and explain it all succinctly, but that defeats the purpose of my question here.  I just want to rest for a moment on the questions and the absurdity I see in this strange behaviour.  (In all honesty, this line of thinking most likely stems from one of my classes where we have been talking about different cultures and their norms.)

From the outside looking in,  pumpkin carving seems a little strange.  Putting faces (and other images) into the flesh of a pumpkin and then later lighting a candle to illuminate the design as the fruit sits for one night by your front door... Why?  Why pumpkins?  Why are they called Jack-o'-lanterns?

Things to think about... maybe for another time. =P

For me, pumpkin carving has a strong link to childhood and Halloween.  A few days before all Hallows' Eve, my mum sister and I would sit in our kitchen (sometimes on the floor) and pull the gooey intestines from within the fruit's thick orange walls.  After getting all we could with just our fingers, we'd draw on the power of spoons to scrape down the insides until smooth.  It never took long for our hands to become tinted orange and flecked with goop.  The smell of pumpkin hung throughout our main floor.  We would be in the clear upstairs in our rooms, but then one too many steps down the stairs and it was like stepping into a dense fog of scent with no escape.

Every year, it was always a challenge to see what faces we could make.  I always wanted to do something different than before and if possible, something more challenging.  Pumpkin art is pretty cool and you can go to Google to find pages of carved pumpkins in any number of subjects.  Usually, my sister and I would have some sort of base idea, and then we'd head to Google to see what images inspired us. I must admit that drawing actual faces on a pumpkin no longer appeals to me and neither do the stereotypical Halloween images like bats, cats and witches.  I'd much rather carve something related to current pop culture like movies or books.  Which leads to this year's pumpkin.  For a brief moment in time, I considered doing a face, but then someone mentioned Despicable Me.  Naturally, I did Minions instead.  Considering the tools I had to use, I think they came out fairly well.

Pumpkin with Minion Carving

Happy Halloween!

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