The Sticky Files - Marisca Bakker

The spooky origin behind carving pumpkins

Marisca learns about where Jack O Lanterns come from as she and her daughters prepare theirs

My daughters and I carved pumpkins the other day.

It was sunny and beautiful out. It was unusually warm so we took advantage and carved them a bit early so we could do it outside.

Such a nice bonus not to have to clean the kitchen afterward.

Yes, this is what excites me nowadays, not having to clean the kitchen.

My seven-year-old daughter is very artistic and did an abstract carving and my four-year-old made me carve out a ‘girl skeleton.’

I think they turned out well and it is so nice to see them lit up on the front porch.

It also smells really good. Hopefully that doesn’t attract any wildlife.

It is an unusual tradition, buying a pumpkin, gutting it and putting a face on it. But according to carving pumpkins started with an old Irish myth about Stingy Jack.

Legend says when Jack died, God didn’t allow him into heaven, and the Devil didn’t let him into hell, so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity. In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul.

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Irish immigrants brought this tradition to America, but used pumpkins because they were more readily available.

Jack O’ Lanterns became associated with Halloween as a way of protecting one’s home against the undead.

Whether you are superstitious or not, it is a fun activity and adds some decor and light to your front porch, especially for that in-between time of summer flowers and Christmas wreaths.

After we had carved our pumpkins, we washed and roasted up the seeds from inside.

It got me wondering why the pumpkin seeds in our pumpkins look so different than the pumpkin seeds you find in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

I learned that unlike the hard white seeds from a carving pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds bought at the supermarket don’t have a shell.

These shell-free seeds are green, flat and oval. Both are healthy to eat. The shells contain more fibre, however, raw pumpkin seeds offer more nutritional value because some nutrients are destroyed during the roasting process.

Either way, both are delicious and nutritious — and probably good to snack on before going trick or treating.


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