A jack-o'-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday of Halloween and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'-lantern. In a jack-o'-lantern, 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 is placed inside to illuminate the effect.
to carve and hollow out the gourd, ranging from simple knives and spoons to specialized instruments, typically sold in holiday sections of North American grocery stores. Printed stencils can be used as a guide for increasingly complex designs. After carving, a light source (traditionally a candle) is placed inside the pumpkin and the top is put back into place. The light is normally inserted to illuminate the design from the inside and add an extra measure of spookiness. Sometimes a chimney is carved, too. It is possible to create surprisingly artistic designs, be they simple or intricate in nature.
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 depicted on them. Pumpkin painting is also common, especially for children whose parents don't want them handling the sharp tools involved in carving.
The tradition of carving a lantern
started in Ireland. However, it was traditionally sliced out of a swede or a turnip. They were created on All Hallows' Eve and left on the door step to ward off evil spirits. An offering or, as we now know it, a "treat", would also be commonly left to placate roaming sprites and evil spirits — otherwise they might 'fiddle' with property or livestock (play a "trick"). Once the tradition moved to the USA, it was adapted to the carving of a pumpkin as these vegetables were more readily available, bigger and easier to carve.
If you want a party the kids will remember for the rest of their lives then you have to host a pumpkin carving party! Carving pumpkins are so much fun and both kids and adults love to do it. It doesn't take a lot of planning but it sure produces a lot of happy people.
There's just something magical about a group of people carving all kinds of pumpkin faces on a table - outside at dusk. The real magic comes when everyone gets to light their pumpkins all at once and everyone gets to ooh and ahhh at the display. We think nothing is better.
The host of the party supplies the pumpkin patterns, drinks and desserts. The guests are asked to bring one pumpkin per family. Ohhhh and don't forget to collect up all the pumpkin seeds and roast them while everyone everyone is having a good time. Once roasted and seasoned, just bag them up in pretty Halloween bags and give them to your guests as a parting gift when they leave.
For kids that are to small to carve with a knife, it's easy to make sure they get to have fun too by setting up a table of baby pumpkins and letting them paint faces on them with paint.