The tradition of carving jack o’ lanterns first originated in Ireland with a folk tale about Stingy Jack a character that managed to cheat the Devil out of his soul, but when he died was punished to wander the Earth forever with only a burning coal that he put into a gourd for a lantern. From this tale people began to make their own lanterns out of turnips, potatoes and beets to ward off evil spirits. It wasn’t until 1837 that people here in America began to make them out of our native pumpkins and a tradition was continued.
Today people get more and more creative each year with carving and decorating pumpkins and gourds. Below are a few of my favorites starting with the amazing Ray Villafane
His ideas are so well done and takes the idea of carving an ephemeral material to another level.
A fairly recent way to carve pumpkins is to use a pattern. This one of the late Steve Jobs is sure to be a popular image this year.
Here is a simple design with a twist. By having a pattern on the back which shows up on the wall behind it makes this pumpkin enter another dimension.
This lovely carousel carved by Brandi Tressler is another example of a well executed idea.
And last but not least are the most “traditional” jack o’ lantern faces we all started with as kids. There are thousands of different variations to make it all your own.