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October 24, 2013

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When viewed from the outside, there sure are some strange human holiday traditions. Imagine how odd it must be for an alien life form to watch someone chop down a pine tree, drag it into the house, and string popcorn around it—or how disturbing it must be to watch Americans gorge themselves on turkey then promptly pass out in front of the television just because it is the last Thursday in November. To someone (or something) without knowledge of these traditions, insanity would be the only diagnosis.  Pumpkin carving can be added to that list of wacky holiday traditions. 

The tradition of placing carved produce on one’s stoop is a ritual that originated in the Celtic celebration of Samhain. On this magical night celebrating the dead, lanterns made from turnips, potatoes and gourds, were placed at the front of homes to help welcome in the spirits of loved ones who had passed on, as well as to help defend against more menacing imps. Pumpkins were not widely used until the European colonization of America, where the round orange surprises proved to be easily carved and were deemed perfect demon repellents. This glowing gourd was given the name Jack-O-Lantern. The name comes from the legend of Stingy Jack, whose deal with the devil left his spirit cursed to wonder the Earth with only the flickering ember of hellfire to light his way. On Friday, October 25, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Miller Plaza, witness another evolution of this strange October tradition. As part of the Fresh Friday event series, expert pumpkin carver Tony Harris will be showing off the artistic possibilities of pumpkin. Michelangelo used marble, Donatello worked with bronze…Harris uses pumpkin. While the first two are longer lasting, the latter sure is tastier.

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October 24, 2013

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