Halloween is a time to get excited about! With this season comes many holiday traditions to get you in the mood for fall weather.
My favorite tradition is carving pumpkins. In my family, we have an annual carving contest where we all bring pumpkins and carve them together. Afterward, we all have the chance to vote on our favorites. This tradition has given me so much joy over the years and I would like to share it with you today.
On the day of the annual pumpkin carving contest, my dad, sister and I gather in the foyer and choose our pumpkins. I typically pick one that is short and round and hopefully not too heavy. My sister and I lay newspaper over the floor while my dad cuts out the top of our pumpkins. Together we goosh the pumpkins, removing the seeds and strings of pumpkin guts. Sometimes my mom and sister roast the pumpkin seeds for a small snack. Once our pumpkins are ready to carve, I change into my costume. Not everyone dresses up, and sometimes I am the only one that wears a costume, but I don’t mind. I really like to get into the spirit.
The contest is located at different houses every year. The households that take part alternate who hosts. When I arrive at the location, I claim my spot at the carving table and start looking through patterns. The hardest part is choosing the best pattern. Every year I say I will choose something easier, but it is my habit to choose an extremely difficult design that takes hours to complete. Once I have picked a pattern, I tape it to the pumpkin and start tracing the outline with a dotter, this creates the dotted line you will follow with the actual carving knife. After years of carving pumpkins with my family, I have become pretty good at these steps and it is so much fun to do it together.
We have multiple bags full of carving tools from various carving kits bought from Marc’s or Walmart over the years. There are multiple knife styles to choose from, but it is my belief that the extremely cheap-looking ones are the best. I usually break two or three of them in the process, but they get the job done better than any other. From here, we all sit and chat and carve, usually drinking apple cider or hot tea.
When I finally finish, as the person that is typically last at the table, we put candles in all the pumpkins and turn off the lights. Everyone gets a piece of paper and can vote for two favorites. We award a first, second and third place out of about ten pumpkins. Sometimes there is a small prize for the winners, but often we settle for just bragging rights.
One of the best parts of carving pumpkins together is seeing what creative designs everyone else came up with. After the contest, we will take our pumpkins and head home. On Halloween night, we light them up for the neighborhood to enjoy and usually get plenty of compliments from trick-or-treaters.
Pumpkin carving has always been the highlight of Halloween in my family and I look forward to many more years of this exciting tradition.