Make a Great Pumpkin this Year and have Joohee ward off evil spirits!
History of Carving Pumpkins
Carving gourds and squash was a tradition of European cultures for 10,000 years. They typically were created at harvest time in the fall, to ward off evil spirits. Jack-o-lantern, another name for a carving, originated in Ireland, but they were not initially carved into pumpkins, but gourds, because pumpkins are native to North America.
So as european immigrant families came to America in the early 19th Century, their traditions blended with what was available and pumpkins became more of the standard vegetable that we use today.
I can’t help but think that carving pumpkins is like creating a jangseung (장승) which perform a similar task of protecting a home or village from evil.
Here is maybe a moderately more difficult project for you and your kids. We have created a stencil of Joohee’s face that you can use to create your own Joohee pumpkin.
- Print, then cut out the stencil, giving yourself about one inch of paper around the design.
- Cut the lid for the pumpkin, cutting around the pumpkin stem. Make a generous circle around the stem, you will need to be able to reach inside the pumpkin with your hands.
- Remove all the seeds and fibers inside the pumpkin. The cleaner you make the interior wall of the pumpkin where you will cut the design, the easier it will be to remove the cut elements. You can even save the seeds and roast them.
- Wet the stencil paper in the sink. Be careful, once the paper is wet it will be very delicate.
- Apply the paper to the pumpkin, carefully smoothing it flat while keeping it straight on the pumpkin.
- Use a pin or a small tool to poke tiny holes through the paper and into the pumpkin to create a guide for where to cut. Make the holes about ¼” apart.
- Remove the paper by pulling it off or simply rinsing it off in the sink. The holes will remain, so you will know where to cut.
- Cut along the dots, almost like a 3D connect the dots.
- Have fun, go slow, and help your kids with the small details.
- The stencil size is for a medium sized pumpkin. If yours is smaller or larger, scale the printout up or down in your printer dialog.
- This stencil does have some delicate or close cuts, so the best advice is to cut slowly and carefully.
- Be very careful with knives and children. Google ‘pumpkin cutter’ for kid safe tools. We got a great kit of tools from Target for $4.
- Here is a great pumpkin seed recipe from All Recipies.