It’s Halloween. A time to get together with your nearest and dearest and discuss things that give you nightmares. It’s time to dress up as your favourite serial killer even though, let’s face it, that is not something you should ever have a favourite of.
When else is it socially acceptable to drink red fizzy liquid and pretend it is blood or eat shortbread in the shape of fingers, or marshmallow ghosts? If you do that any other time of year, that’s just plain weird. And you do this all while trying to maintain small talk with men dressed as zombies. What do the undead think about Brexit? Indeed, they might have a good idea or two. Did you know pirates have surprisingly staunch stances on Extinction Rebellion? There’s nothing quite like normal adult conversation but with a costume thrown in.
Let’s be realistic, sometimes it can all be too much. A whole evening of chatting to Alice in Wonderland, Deadpool and five generic witches about what you can do for a living can be quite draining. And why does no one want to actually talk about anything spooky on Halloween?
So, if you aren’t in the mood to talk to people on Halloween, why not stay home? Don’t worry about being lonely: you can make your own friend. A friend named Jack, a Jack O’Lantern if you will. That’s right, I am now talking about pumpkin carving.
Pumpkin carving originated in Ireland, where the lamps were originally created to keep an evil and apparently stingy ghost called Jack away from their homes on Halloween. Now your Jack O’Lantern can be your very own companion for watching horror stories.
Begin with a pumpkin (this is rather important, though in some parts of the world a turnip is also acceptable, and also terrifying,) a vegetable knife and a bowl for all the scraps. Once you have acquired these, I would recommend going online to find inspiration for the face of your pumpkin. From Disney princesses, to cute minimalist designs, to absolutely scary faces, anything goes.
But let’s go with something spooky, shall we? Depending how confident you are, you can either freehand a design onto your pumpkin or print out a stencil and draw around it.
Then it’s time to carve, so prepare to get messy. Begin by cutting a circle around the pumpkin stem to create a lid. Use a spoon to pry the lid out of the pumpkin.
Now for the messy bit. This can be done with a spoon but is actually easier if you use your hand. Reach in and pull out the pumpkin seeds and all the gunk and place this in a bowl. (Save the pumpkin seed for roasting and eating later.)
Finally, it is time to carve the pumpkin’s face. Begin from the centre, cutting out a vague shape in the middle. Carve from inside out, being careful to always aim the knife away from your body to avoid accidentally stabbing yourself. It’s a real risk.
And that is about as far as any instructions can take you. Have fun, get messy, stick on some spooky music while you do it, too. When the pumpkin is finally finished, pop in a tea-light candle, and light it, and stick the pumpkin lid back on top.
Get ready for a flickering, spooky, pumpkin buddy to spend the evening with. Just beware, if you stick it outside, while you might keep the evil Jack away, you’ll probably find your home swarmed by little monsters, ghouls and Alice in Wonderlands. All screaming “trick or treat!”