Carving Les Pumpkins

Gold Cohort is the best cohort. Case in point, we spent the afternoon carving pumpkins in preparation for Halloween. Excuse me… I meant Haas-loween.

We had a good mix of professional pumpkin carvers and newbies. Stephanie, our resident pumpkin-guru, was nice enough to go over the basics of carving.

Step 1: Cut a circle around the stem and remove the top
Step 2: Clean out the seeds and gunk; roast the seeds for later
Step 3: Draw a face on the pumpkin with a sharpie
Step 4: Carve the face with a serrated knife

Since we didn’t have any candles on hand, we used flashlight apps on our respective smart phones to light the jack-o’-lanterns.

Some of the ladies waved their carving knives a little too close to my face, but thankfully I did not walk away with new scars. However, the best part of the day was explaining to international students why Americans have a tradition of carving scary faces into the sides of large orange vegetables. Truth be told, we didn’t know the answer either. I had to consult Wikipedia on my phone.

It turns out the tradition of carving pumpkins originated in Ireland and Britain. In the old world, children carved turnips and cabbage stems. When the English came to America, fleeing religious persecution, they discovered that pumpkins were more abundant. Thus began the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern.

The flickering flame inside the jack-o’-lantern is supposed to resemble the strange lights found over peat bogs and cemeteries. In folklore, a man named Jack managed to trap the Devil in a tree and solicited a promise that his soul would never go to hell. However, Jack’s soul was too sinful to enter heaven. So when Jack died, his soul wandered the Earth, unable to find a resting place. The flame inside the jack-o’-lantern is Jack’s soul.

In the end, our cohort showcased some excellent carving skills. I was recruited to draw the designs on the side of the pumpkins with a pen. Stephanie and Amara both carved black cats into their pumpkins. Allan carved the Florida Gators logo into his. Bryan carved a fleur-de-lis (for some reason). Dea carved the words ‘Gold’ and ‘Haas.’

Emily created a creepy demon face, but did it really fast. The skill in which this girl worked her knife would put Gordon Ramsay to shame. I’m scared to ask her about her past. Professional assassin?

We spent the rest of the night drinking beer and eating roasted pumpkin seeds. What a great Sunday.

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