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Make a Jack-o-Lantern

Home > Sydney > Fun for Children | Fun Things To Do
Published October 25th 2010
With Halloween just around the corner, it's time to start making your jack-o-lanterns.

One of the most recognised symbols of Halloween, the jack-o-lantern is a carved pumpkin that is lit by a candle inside. The custom is to carve a scary or comical face into the pumpkin and place it on the doorstep after dark.

The tradition stems back to Ireland and Scotland, although turnips were the available vegetable of choice. They were carved on All Hallows' Eve and placed on the doorstep of homes to ward off evil spirits.

The tradition moved to North America with the migration of European's, however pumpkins were used instead, as they were readily available and easier to carve.

Australia never really adopted this tradition but over the past few decades Halloween parties are starting to pop up on people's social calendars, so if you're Down Under perhaps this could be the year to attempt carving your first jack-o-lantern.


1. Consider the size and shape. The pumpkin needs to be big enough to carve a face into and the shape is purely personal preference: round or tall and thin.

2. It's best to choose a dry pumpkin with a hard surface. Tape the pumpkin check for solidity. Hollow sections means that the pumpkin is rotting.

3. A pumpkin with a smooth surface is easier to work with than one that is rough, bumpy or uneven.


1. Pick the best side of the pumpkin and draw the features of the face onto the skin.

2. Cut a circular hole around the top of the pumpkin, angling the knife. This becomes the lid.

3. Remove the inside filling and seeds of the pumpkin using either a dessert spoon or a knife.

4. Cut the pieces of the face out using either a sharp knife or a carving tool.

5. Place a candle or an electric light inside the pumpkin and enjoy the end result.

This is a fun activity for both children and adults alike, but best to leave the carving for the grown ups.
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Why? Protect your home from evil spirits!
When: Before Halloween
Where: Anywhere you can make a bit of mess.
Cost: Pumpkin, cutting tools.
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