A jack-o'-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O'Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween. Typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. At night a light (commonly a candle) is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is.
Sections of the pumpkin are cut out to make a design, often depicting a face. A variety of tools may be used to carve and hollow out the gourd, ranging from simple knives and spoons to specialized instruments, typically sold in holiday sections of grocery stores. Printed stencils can be used as a guide for increasingly complex designs. It is possible to create surprisingly artistic designs, be they simple or intricate in nature. After carving, a light source (traditionally a candle, sometimes an electric light) is placed inside the pumpkin and the top is put back into place. The light illuminates the design from the inside. Sometimes a chimney is carved in. But towards the end of the 20th century, artists began expressing every kind of idea they could imagine on pumpkins. Today, it is common to see portraits of political candidates, celebrities and cartoon characters.
Photo is a Jack-o'-lantern carved from a turnip.
Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede. But not until 1837 does jack-o'-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved lantern does not become associated specifically with Halloween until 1866. Significantly, both occurred not in Britain or Ireland, but in North America. Historian David J. Skal writes,
Although every modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chronicles of British holidays and folk customs make any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween. Neither do any of the standard works of the early twentieth century.
In America, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween.
Definition of Jack-o'-lantern
the term jack-o'-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the mid-17th century; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp. In Labrador and Newfoundland, both names "Jacky Lantern" and "Jack the Lantern" refer to the will-o'-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.
What is a pumpkin?
A pumpkin is a squash. It is a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers. Pumpkins are grown all over the world on six of the seven continents. Pumpkins are good for you. Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A and potassium. They are also high in fiber.
History tells us
The first jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips or gourds and were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. When European settlers arrived in American they found the native pumpkin to be largerand easier to carve than their traditional turnips and gourds. They changed their choice of carving to the pumpkin and the pumpkin became the traditional jack-o-lantern of today.
Native American Indians (Native American Food) used pumpkin as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. When white settlers arrived, they saw the pumpkins grown by the Indians and learned how to grow it and the many ways of how to eat it. Pumpkin soon became a staple in the pilgrims diets as well. Traditional Halloween fair consists of foods that are mainly popular in the fall season. Pumpkin soups, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin breads and pumpkin pies are all very popular because of the symbolism the pumpkin has for Halloween. Areas usually have pumpkins in abundance. Baking pumpkins and ornamental pumpkins both. see pumpkin recipes
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The carved pumpkin, lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween's most prominent symbols. These lanterns are usually carved from a turnip or swede (or more uncommonly a mangelwurzel). The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkins were readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home's doorstep after dark.
History of the Jack-o-Lantern
People have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.........
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