Friday, October 30, 2020

Carved Turnips, Carved Pumpkins


No Halloween is complete without carving at least one pumpkins.  Even out in the bush of Alaska, stores generally order in a few pumpkins so people can have a traditional halloween.  Some people just carve the pumpkin while others save and dry the seeds with salt  to eat later.

Do you know why we carve pumpkins?  I do and I'm about to share the why with everyone.  The myth associated with carving pumpkins and turnips, comes from an alleged indecent many, many, years ago. 

There was a man by the name of Jack whose nickname was Stingy Jack.  It is said he loved it when he could get anything, especially drinks for free so one day he made a deal with the Devil and managed to win the bet so the Devil had to pay.  Of course the Devil wasn't very happy about it so when Stingy Jack died, he couldn't go to heaven.  Instead, he was condemned to walk the earth at the darkest part of the night with only a lantern carved from a turnip holding a single ember to light his way.  

The Irish began carving vegetables and lighting them to keep Jack away.  They traditionally used turnips because that is what they had but when they emigrated to the United States, they discovered pumpkins were a wonderful vegetable to use.  They were bigger, easier to carve and had space for lights. Even today, many Irish still carve turnips and some of those can be quite scary.

From the museum of Country Life, Mayo Ireland.
The Museum of Country Life in Mayo Ireland has many carved turnips in their exhibits.  Those carved turnips resemble human skulls with their eyes and mouths.  The pumpkins tend to allow for bigger, more expressive faces, or fantasy type scenes but do not resemble a human skull.

This picture is of a turnip found at the Museum of County Life in Mayo so you can see how much closer to something scary the carved turnip is.  If they didn't have a turnip to carve, they might use beets, potatoes, or mangels instead to create the face.  

Should you decide to try something different by carving a turnip, know it is almost done the same way as a pumpkin. 

1.  Find a large turnip for the best results.

2. Slice the bottom off the turnip so it has a flat base to sit upon.

3. Slice the top greens off so the top is bare.

4. Cut a slice off the top to make the lid.

5. Hollow out the turnip with what ever tools you have but a paring knife is best.

6.  Carve out the eyes and mouth.

7. Place a tea light in the center, place the lid on it, and you are done.

The same instructions work for the beets, and mangels but for a potato, you don't need to trim the top off first.

Have a wonderful celebration tomorrow.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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