Carving pumpkins for many is one of the best parts of celebrating Halloween, but how did this tradition even start? I had heard about this many years ago as a kid, but the story itself is pretty interesting.

The practice of carving pumpkins started in Ireland where people initially would carve large turnips and potatoes. The name Jack-O-Lantern comes from Irish Folklore about a man named "Stingy Jack." When Irish immigrants made their way to the United States they brought the tradition, but started using pumpkins which were widely available.

According to History.com: " In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away "Stingy Jack" and other wandering evil spirits."

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I remember carving pumpkins as a kid before the fancy carving kits existed and it is a miracle we did not get hurt. Standing on top of a kitchen chair with a steak knife that we would jab in and out of the pumpkin. Yeah real safe, but we survived. Plus I definitely was the kid who always picked out the biggest pumpkin possible at the pumpkin patch and my poor dad would have to carry it to the car.

When my kids were younger I remember one Halloween when we had probably 20 pumpkins out in our yard, we went through probably five carving kits, but it looked so cool when we had them all lit up in the yard. But I will tell you the clean-up was a disgusting mess. We got slugs inside of them and of course, they can get mushy too.

So how do you know what is the best pumpkin to pick? According to kitchn.com these are some tried and true methods to get the best carving pumpkin in the patch:

  1. Pick up the pumpkin and tap it, it should have a nice hollow sound.
  2. Choose one that has a consistent coloring to it.
  3. Try to pick a pumpkin that does not have any scratches, bruising or dark spots.
  4. Make sure the bottom sits flat.
  5. Don't ever carry it from the stem, cradle it from the bottom or put it in a bag.

With these sure-fire tips, you should have a successfully carved pumpkin when it is all said and done.

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