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Around this time of year we start to see a spook-tacular array of Halloween decorations in our shops and streets. Houses decorate their windows and doors, and often have carved pumpkins outside, called Jack-o’-Lanterns. And we want IN!

Firstly, though, WHY??? Why are pumpkins carved into spooky faces around 31 October? Well, we at Londonist have done some homework for you! Turns out, in the 8th century, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints' Day (which was a celebration of the church's saints), to November 1st. So the evening before that fell on 31 October. It was ‘All Hallow’s Eve’. Which became ‘Halloween’.

So now we know why it’s on October 31st but what do pumpkins have to do with it? The Londonist team have got your back on that, too.

There was an Irish myth about a character called Stingy Jack who, the tale goes, tricked the Devil for his own monetary benefit. When Stingy Jack died it’s said that God wouldn’t let him into Heaven (as he was a trickster) and the Devil wouldn’t let him into Hell as he was cross that he’d been tricked, so Jack had no choice but to wander around earth for all eternity. In Ireland they used to carve turnips (no not pumpkins!) into spooky faces to frighten away Stingy Jack’s soul from their homes. And when Irish settlers moved to the USA they began carving the jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins, as these were native to the area. Plus, let’s face it, easier to carve than a turnip.

Ahhh, so now we know why, we can get on with the business of carving our own pumpkins!

And in the light of Halloween, we have a competition you will want to enter! Best Carved Pumpkin! Easy right? Well we want to see your carving skills and if you need some inspiration keep on reading!

Safety first though, careful of your sharp knives and no real candles, use the battery ones instead!


What you’ll need:
  • A pumpkin Choose a good sized pumpkin so you have room to work. Most of the supermarkets and market stalls will have them in stock right now for anything from £1-£5
  • A sharp knife
  • A good ‘scooping’ spoon, like a serving spoon
  • A marker pen
  • battery operated candle such as these from amazon Or if you already have battery operated fairy lights you can use those
  1. Around the top of the pumpkin, cut around to make a ‘lid’. Make it big enough a hole so you can get your hand right in. Set aside the lid.
  2. Using your big spoon, scoop out the inside of the pumpkin as much as possible. You can keep the seeds and roast them for a tasty snack (check out this recipe from Jamie Oliver here)
  3. Decide your design! You can use a marker pen to draw out your design onto the pumpkin or use one of the handy templates available online. Use your sharp knife to cut out and don’t forget to go all the way through as you’ll be lighting it up from the inside after! A traditional scary face A bat there’s a selection of spooky templates here
  4. Make sure you’ve scooped out a flat surface inside the pumpkin base and pop in your LED tealight, turn it on and wait until dark!
More ideas!

Spooky carvings aren't just for pumpkins Try these ideas too!

1. Carve out a pepper! A mini scene of scary veg!
2. Or try with watermelons - that red flesh inside makes a great backdrop for a scary face
3. And if you’re not talented with carving, go for drawings instead! How about having a spooky orange art party with your friends, then eating the healthy fruit after?
4. And don’t forget your halloween treats! How about spider mini pizzas? Use black olives on mini pizzas
5. Or some Dracula teeth? Find the recipe here

And if that’s not enough Halloween fun to be going on with, we present you with some truly chilling jokes!

Q.What can you catch from a vampire in wintertime?

A. Frost-bite!

Q: When does a ghost eat breakfast?

A. In the moaning.

Q: What kind of fruit to ghosts love?

A. Boo-berries.

Q: Why didn’t the vampire attack Taylor Swift?

A: She had bad blood

Q: Who did Frankstein take to the party?

A: His ghoul-friend

Q: What is a witch’s favourite subject?

A: Spelling

Now if those didn’t get you groaning, we don’t know what will!

Have a spook-tacular Halloween!

Londonist DMC

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