Pumpkin carving tips, ideas for Halloween

What's Halloween without a traditional jack-o-lantern?

Pumpkin carving is a popular part of modern America's Halloween celebration.

The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack."

According to tradition, the Devil was upset by a trick Jack had played on him and would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

Better Homes and Gardens has a few tips on how to pick the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern:

--Look for solid, even-colored pumpkins and check for hidden soft spots.

--Make sure the pumpkin's stem is solidly attached.

--For an intricate design, pick a pumpkin with a flat surface.

For more tips, visit bhg.com.

Whether you're just carving a pumpkin to sit by the front door at Halloween or holding a pumpkin carving party, the age old tradition is a main event for adults and children.

Pumpkin Carving 101 offers everything you need to know about creating your personal jack-o-lantern.

They suggest starting with the right tools, including knives, a poker tool, spoons to clean out the pumpkin, a grease pencil for drawing your design, or patterns created on your computer, downloaded from the Internet or purchasing them during the Halloween season in booklets.

Begin by cutting off the top of the pumpkin, making sure the hole is large enough to scoop out the guts and seeds inside with a large spoon.

Scrape the inside walls of the pumpkin clean with the spoon then draw or use a stencil to create your pumpkin's features.

Use a knife to carefully cut out the marked sections, carefully pushing out the pieces.

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pumpkin flat so a candle placed inside will rest securely. They recommend using a votive candle for safety.

There are stencil patterns you can download on your computer to create a personalized pumpkin.

Check out these websites for ideas:

ultimate-pumpkin-stencils.com

bhg.com

pumpkinlady.com

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