Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. Part of the fun of the season is choosing just the perfect pumpkin. This can be done at a farm stand or in a field where you choose your own. While a pumpkin is a fine decoration, it cannot compare to a jack-o-lantern. This is an age of tradition of carving a face into the pumpkin. It is quite an art form. While no two are ever identical, it is the pumpkin itself that determines its personality. With some simple steps you will have no trouble turning a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern.
Choose a pumpkin
There are two distinctive schools of thought when it comes to choosing the perfect pumpkin. Some people thing that short and round is the perfect shape while others prefer and taller more lean appearance. The basic shape of the pumpkin will lend itself to what type of face suits it best. One thing that you do need, no matter what shape you prefer is a flat bottom. You want your jack-o-lantern to sit flat on the steep or table which will be its home on Halloween.
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Take off the top
Now that you have chosen the perfect pumpkin you need to remove the stem. When you do this you create a top that will lift off of the pumpkin so that you can get to the inside a remove the pulp and seeds. Choose a spot on the top of the pumpkin and with a sharp knife insert it into the skin. You can draw a square on the top and just keep making small incision until you have gotten all the way around or you can do it freehand. Whatever you are comfortable with.
Scooping out the inside
Once the top has been safely removed you need a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp that is inside. The seeds are edible and make a very tasty snack. If you plan to roast them, have a baking sheet ready. You can wash the seeds and throw out the pulp. Add a little salt and olive oil to the seeds and place them in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.
Now the most important part, the carving of the face. You can purchase a carving kit it will have all the tools you need or if you prefer a more personal approach then use a kitchen knife and go freehand. You may want to draw a face on the pumpkin or you can buy a pattern. Start small, maybe an eye. Insert the knife into the pumpkin, this will take a little bit of strength and a sharp knife. Make sure the second cut over laps the first and so on until you can push the piece that is now the eye into the pumpkin.
Continue with the other eye and then the nose which is usually an upside down triangle. The most import feature is the mouth and teeth. You also have to decide if you want a happy face or a scary face. You can make the face as complex or as simple as you want. Every opening you make will be showing the light that you place inside so the more openings the more light reflected.
If children are going to be carving they need to be supervised since it takes sharp knives and lots of pushing to get good results.
You can use real candles inside of the jack-o-lantern or use a more modern and safe version with batteries. The good thing about the batteries is that they last longer and you can light the pumpkin for several days before or after Halloween.
You are now ready to celebrate Halloween with your family, friends and neighbors. All that is needed is the trick or treaters.
I have been an Internet writer for more than 16 years. While I specialize in travel, I write on a variety of subjects. I love genealogy, food, and fashion. I have 10 grandchildren so family travel is something we often do.