Day 305

31 Oct

Happy Halloween!

Would you believe it wasn’t possible to buy a pumpkin anywhere today?! Completely sold out. Just as well it’s actually traditional to use turnips for Jack O’Lanterns in Ireland. Here’s my attempt…

Wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!” John Greenleaf Whittier

The story of how carved turnips came to be used as lanterns varies throughout Europe. According to a spooky old Irish tale, a measly farmer called Stingy Jack tricked the Devil into climbing a tree. Once the Devil was high up in the moonlit branches, Stingy Jack carved a cross into the bark so he couldn’t get down again.

Jack only agreed to let the Devil down when he promised never to take the farmer’s soul. When Stingy Jack eventually died, he was too sinful to pass through Heaven’s gates, and as the Devil had promised never to take his soul, he was damned to always wander the earth in search of a resting place. He carved out a turnip, and inside placed a glowing ember the Devil gave him to light his lonely way… He became known as “Jack of the Lantern.”


8 Responses to “Day 305”

  1. marting04 October 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    When I was a kid it was only turnips we used. The only pumpkins I saw were on Scooby Doo.

    • James Gracey November 1, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      We always used turnips, too. This was my first time carving the thing myself. Pumpkins are MUCH easier to hollow out! Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween. 🙂

      • marting04 November 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

        Melons are easy too and tastier

  2. Marie Robinson November 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    it’s cute!! I’ve never heard of the turnip thing.

    • James Gracey November 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      Alas, it is rather cute. I was going for ‘terrifyingly chilling!!’, but I guess I missed the mark! 😉

  3. Tess October 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Hi! I would love to feature your carved turnip in a post I’m working on for Apartment Therapy- would that be alright? Full credit & links, of course!
    Thanks so much,
    tessmariewilson at! gmail dot! com

    • James Gracey October 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi Tess,
      Hope this finds you well.

      Of course that’s alright! Be my guest.

      Best wishes,


  1. Non-Pumpkin Carving | My Chaz Condo - October 24, 2013

    […] Turnips – Try out your creative skills on the produce which was originally carved for Halloween! […]

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