Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Halloween Jack O' Lanterns - Let Us Shine a Light on the Why and How!

If you want to create instant atmosphere at Halloween you need only carve yourself a pumpkin or as they are more commonly referred to; a Jack 'O lantern. Carving pumpkins is an age old tradition which, like so much of Halloween, began in Ireland.

Irish folklore has the origins of Jack O' lanterns in the story of a greedy farmer named Jack (strangely). Through cunning, this Irish farmer managed to trick the devil into climbing a tree and then whilst the devil was in the braches, Jack cut a cross into the trunk of the tree thereby trapping El Diablo by preventing climbing out of the tree.

Not best pleased with this result, the devil laid a hex on Jack condemning him to an earth bound eternity in limbo. And as a continual reminder of the flames of Hell, the devil tossed Jack an undying ember which he was further condemned to carry with him all the time. Jack carved a turnip and placed the ember inside before setting off on his quest to find solace from his sentence of purgatory.

With the mass exodus of Irish to escape the great famine, the tradition of carving turnip and swede spread across the globe and the pumpkin, always considered as being the iconic harvest produce began to be similarly carved. The natural link to celebration of All Hallows Eve and the story farmer Jack happened around the middle of the nineteenth century when carved pumpkins (primarily) became commonly referred to as Jack O' lanterns.

If you want to join in the fun and carve your own Jack o' lantern, shops and markets will be stocking pumpkins ranging in size from the tiny to gigantic and all have a place in decorating for Halloween. Large pumpkins make stunning centerpieces and can be used for elaborate and complicated carved designs. Small examples are used to demonstrate fine carving and are usually pride of place in any display. For beginners and experienced alike, a good display of medium sized pumpkins makes an ideal and welcoming Halloween decoration.

Pumpkin carving has become so much simpler with the advent of stencils which can be fixed to the pumpkin side making guide for the carver to follow. These usually also come compete with useful instructions which combined bring the skill of carving a beautiful pumpkin within the reach of most.

Before starting to carve your pumpkin, it is a good idea to consider how you will be lighting it. This will determine whether you should cut from the top or the bottom. If you are using a candle, cutting the top creates a natural vent for the heat produced to escape. If using a battery operated light, cutting from the bottom will allow easier and quicker access to it. This will be especially useful if you are planning to use Jack o' lanterns in a graveyard scene or on mass.

Scoop out the inside of the pumpkin so the side to be carved is about 1" thick. This makes the effort of carving much easier. Apply any stencil to the smoothest side of the pumpkin making sure it's as central as possible.

Using a pumpkin pricker or toothpick, transfer the design to the pumpkin and then using a combination of pumpkin saw and knives or blades create your desired pumpkin carving by following the pricked outline on the pumpkin.

To prevent your pumpkin spoiling and drying out too quickly, smear any cut edges with petroleum jelly. When not on show, keep it cool and in the dark and lastly, if it does dry out, revitalise it by plunging it in bucket of cold water.

Karnival Costumes stocks pumpkin carving kits along with a huge selection of Halloween props including gravestones, artificial moss, monster chains, creepy cloth, skeletons, spooky animals, flying ghosts and ghouls along with a huge selection of fancy dress costumes and accessories Halloween adults and Children; go to: http://www.karnival-house.co.uk/acatalog/Halloween.html Feel free to browse our website and purchase your Halloween props, costumes and accessories with confidence from one of the leading costume suppliers in the UK.

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Article submitted by: KV Sinclair. Keith Sinclair has over 35 years of business experience and in addition to being a part time University Lecturer on Business Studies, he is CEO of Cavalcade; a group of companies operating in the party sector. Cavalcade operates Karnival-House http://www.karnival-house.co.uk one of the UK's leading internet Fancy Dress Retailers. With massive stocks for immediate dispatch and an ever expanding range, Karnival-House continues to strive simply to offer outstanding service combined with outstanding value.

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