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Carving Turnips for Halloween

Pumpkin carving, it is perhaps the biggest tradition of Halloween. But, pumpkins were not the first vegetable to be carved.

Long before pumpkin carving became popular, Celtic people in Ireland were carving turnips and lighting them with embers, to ward off evil spirits. This Celtic custom is the historical root of Halloween pumpkin carving. Irish immigrants brought their tradition with them to America. Pumpkins are native to America. In those days, they were not found in Ireland. As Irish immigrants came to America, they discovered pumpkins. They quickly discovered that hollow, softer pumpkins, were much easier to carve.

Carving turnips dates back several hundred years, to ancient Celtic customs and traditions. This was commonly done on All Hollow's Eve, of which Halloween takes much of it's origin. Carving turnips never quite caught on in America.....thanks to pumpkins. But, you can try your hand a carving turnips for Halloween.

Did you Know? Rutabagas were also carved and lit to keep evil spirits away.

How to Carve Turnips for Halloween - - to Ward off Those Evil Spirits:

If you have evil spirits lurking in your neighborhood during Halloween, or any time of the year, it might be a good idea, to carve a few turnips and set them out on your doorstep. Or, you may carry a carved turnip with you, just in case you meet someone from the underworld, as you walk along your sidewalk some evening.

Here's how to carve turnips:  

  1. Pick a large turnip.

  2. Cut off the top leaves and stems.

  3. Cut a slice off the bottom of the turnip. This provides a flat bottom, so it will not roll away on you.

  4. With a sharp knife, slice off the top of the turnip....the lid.

  5. Carve out the center. This is hard to do. You can use a variety of tools, a small paring knife works best.

  6. Use a small knife to cut a face in the turnip.

  7. Light the turnip with a small tealight candle.

  8. You can leave the top off, or put it on. If you put it on when the candle is lit, the lid will begin to cook...literally.

Now, put the carved turnip out on your doorstep, or in a window to keep all those nasty evil spirits away from your home!

More Information:

How to Grow Turnips - Learn about growing turnips.


Halloween Decorating
and Pumpkin Carving

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