The History of Pumpkin Carving

Jessica Cochran, Reporter

Pumpkin carving is a huge tradition that almost everyone does every October or November. During the fall season, adults and kids find pumpkin carving a fun activity. Family halloween parties often include pumpkin carving. Pretty much everyone knows what pumpkin carving is and has probably carved a pumpkin before but who knows the story behind it?


Pumpkin carving was originally an Irish tradition and was brought to America in the 1800s when a wave of immigrants came here. The original Jack O’Lanterns weren’t even pumpkins. Instead the Irish used turnips, potatoes, or even beets. In America, they later found out that it was easier to carve pumpkins because they were bigger.


The story behind pumpkin carving is often thought of as a myth by many people. The Irish legend goes back hundreds of years about Stingy Jack. The most popular story states that he was a miserable and old man, who took pleasure in scaring other people. One day he tricked the devil into climbing up an apple tree. He told the devil that if he didn’t take Jacks soul, he would help the devil get out of the tree. So the devil had to promise Jack not to take his soul.


Many years later Jack died and went to the gates of heaven but a saint told him that he was mean and cruel and sent him to hell. But the devil had made the promise not to take his soul. Jack had nowhere to go and was very scared. He was stuck wandering in the netherlands in between heaven and hell. He asked the devil where to go because there was no light, but all the devil could do was give him an ember from the flames of hell. Jack had a turnip with him, one of his favorite foods, and had hollowed it out. He put the ember inside it and from that day onward he had roamed with his Jack O’Lantern.