I spent Sunday afternoon with Gold Cohort, barbecuing delicious meats and carving pumpkins. Stephanie, our resident pumpkin-guru, was nice enough to go over the basics of carving.
Step 1: Cut a circle around the stem and remove the top
Step 2: Clean out the seeds and gunk; roast the seeds for later
Step 3: Draw a face on the pumpkin with a sharpie
Step 4: Carve the face with a serrated knife
Many of the international students were unfamiliar with American Halloween traditions. So we attempted to explain why American children like to carve scary faces on the side of a large orange squash.
A quick search on Wikipedia revealed that the jack-o’-lantern originated in old Ireland. Originally, children carved turnips and cabbage stems. However, when people immigrated to America, they discovered pumpkins were not only more abundant but also easier to carve. Thus began the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern.
The flickering flame inside the jack-o’-lantern supposedly resembles the strange lights found over peat bogs and cemeteries. In folklore, a man named Jack managed to trap the Devil in a tree and solicited a promise that his soul would never go to hell. However, Jack’s soul was too sinful to enter heaven. So when Jack died, his soul wandered the Earth, unable to find a resting place. The flame inside the jack-o’-lantern is Jack’s soul.
The rest of the night was a little hazy. We drank beer and ate roasted pumpkin seeds. A good time was had by all.
Fall-B is just beginning and the workload is sure to increase. Hopefully, people will have free time for more hangouts next weekend.