What images does Halloween bring to mind? Various kinds of ghosts, pumpkin lamps, or children who go door to door asking for candy?
Most Chinese students have usually heard about pumpkin lamps and Halloween in fairy tales, but may have never actually laid eyes on one, much less carved one independently.
Origin of Pumpkin Lamps
These Halloween-style pumpkin lamps are called Jack-o-Lanterns. The name is tied to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a drunkard who bargains with Satan and is doomed to roam the Earth with only a hollowed turnip to light his way. In the 19th century, hollowed out turnip lanterns carved with grotesque faces were part of the Halloween customs in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.
The practice spread to other countries, and it is now common to see pumpkin lamps on doorsteps, stoops and used as decorations during the Halloween season.
Beginning of the Pumpkin Carving
The Halloween Pumpkin Carving Night began at 19:00. Participants arrived and selected their pumpkin and personal carving station. Of course, most everyone was a complete beginner. They listened carefully to the instructions and then started on their own work!
It was not easy at the beginning. The pumpkins first must be hollowed out. Some thick pumpkins made the task especially difficult. However, this little trouble would not be a challenge for our students. Participants discovered they had special skills in carving pumpkins. We saw cute ghosts, scary and humorous faces, cats, bats, and even a PKU logo come to life.
3 Step Process
Step 1: First, cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin and take out the seeds inside. The cut off part should be kept complete as the lid of pumpkin lamps.
Step 2: Second, the design and carving. This step reflected the aesthetic taste and skill of the maker. We began to see various kinds of “faces” of the pumpkins.
Step 3: Last, put a light into each empty pumpkin, cover the lid and use a rope to tie it with a stick if you want a special accessory. Some participants also decorated the pumpkin lamps with headdress and cartoon glasses. A lovely pumpkin lamp was born!
After happily working, all participants introduced their own creations. Many participants gave their pumpkin lamps cute names to participate in the voting contest. Next, the exciting part – appraising and voting for the most beautiful pumpkin lamps. The awards included a power bank, a Halloween coffee mug, and a Bluetooth mouse.
Each participant spent a wonderful evening delightfully working hard to make their own masterpiece. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a Halloween party without plenty of candy as well!
Let’s hear from some voices about the party:
Li Yang (from SECE, PKU): “I was so happy to join as an assistant because it would be a good time for me to enjoy. Nathan, the teacher who is responsible for this event, prepared everything well before 19:00. Everyone started their works after Nathan showed how to use the tools and how to carve. Everyone was very creative. They made many kinds of pumpkins lamp. Everyone had fun the whole night. It’s a great Halloween celebration.“
Mei Siyu (from SEE, PKU): “I first thought we would use fake pumpkins, but to my surprise, real fresh pumpkins were prepared for everyone. Everyone took great care in the production and the result was very nice. The pumpkin lamps showed a special vibe in dark environment. In a word, it is a good Halloween activity!”
Written by Zhang Wendou
Photos by Zhang Wendou & Yao Dawei