When is a pumpkin not a pumkin?


When it is a turnip!

Yes, growing up in Ireland, we did not have pumpkins filling every shop on the weeks preceding Halloween. Halloween was a much less commercial event, and in mainland UK Halloween was overshadowed by Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November. As a child we had to make do with turnips to make our Halloween lanterns.

Halloween first was celebrated in the United States in the 1840s, when Irish Catholics, fleeing from the potato famine, brought Halloween customs with them to America. The tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns originated with Irish children who carved out the centers of rutabagas, turnips and potatoes and placed candles inside.

There are many reasons why turnips were never a great success in our family

  • Turnips have the density of a brick – no hollow inside with seeds and soft fleshy bits
  • They are not orange
  • They are not cute
  • They take hours to carve out
  • They usually resulted in bending one of our Mum’s metal spoons
  • Sometimes there were even blisters!

I could not believe the ease of pumpkin carving until we scooped out our first one with our kids….a breeze…..a dream…..a walk in the park……I could go on!

This blog post is both for BYOP and Show & Tell (I like to multi-task!)

This is a digi-layout of our kids pumpkin carving last October.

Here are our carving adventures from this year (no blood, sweat, tears or turnips!)

And the final results

I also want to share are very minimal Halloween decorations. As Christians, we do not focus much on Halloween, however we do not totally avoid it either. I appreciate each family makes their own decisions on this, but I found my thoughts echoed well in THIS BLOG POST.

So we decorate with a few pumpkins (not turnips), the kids dress up (but nothing too scary or horrific) and we do Trick or Treating with the kids in our cul-de-sac.

Here are our scary kids this year

This is our “wee spider” man!

And here are our decorations

This is on the hall table

The cobwebs are not real – promise! A few very non-threatening ghosts

Some more pumpkins, on a garland and some mini candles.

So what do you do? For more Show and Tell visit Kelli, and for more Halloween decor visit We are THAT family.

Finally, for one last time(!) a reminder to click over to my Digital Design Blog (J M Digital Designs) and enter my Giveaway – it closes at midnight 31 October.
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  1. The pumpkins and kids are so cute! I do about as much decorating as you, nothing too fancy and some simple costumes. The kids are just happy to be trick or treating, so they don’t even care that the front of house isn’t looking like a graveyard!

  2. This looks as such a funny feast ! I don’t know these preparations at all, I learned about Halloween in Blogworld two years ago !
    I think it is a very nice use. I celebrate Halloween at least on my blog. It is slowly arriving in Belgium though.

  3. I found you from BYOP. Thank you for sharing!

    My Irish husband and neighbor went nuts looking for turnips here in Florida. We ordered some only to learn what they wanted are called rutabagas here.

    Beautiful pictures by the way!

  4. Oh I remember carving turnips, most of all because of the smell of burning turnip everywhere. You couldn’t get a tea light anywhere back then and you had to make do with jamming a full size candle in there.

  5. We always loved carving pumpkins when the kids were younger. This was the first year we haven’t done it. We missed it. And, your little boy looks very much like my little brother did when he was young. My papa had that red hair and so did my mom and my brother.

  6. OH my!!! OH MY!!! I love this whole blog entry today! What a great Halloween treat for us all. Those kids are adorable. I think I like the one of the three of them all together with the pumpkins best. Sweet!!!

    My Show n Tell is shared. Come by if you can. And I added a comment link right below the end of my show n tell today, since it’s such a huge blog for Halloween. Gifts galore for all! If you stop by!!!

  7. Great Show & Tell! I love your scrapbook layout and your children are adorable. Thanks for the link – I enjoyed We are THAT family’ entry on Halloween.

  8. Your photos and pumpkins are awesome!! I love your scrapbook layout too:-)

    Next year you need to join my Halloween Blog Party. Hope you visit my site. You’ll enjoy seeing all the winners today.

  9. Love your scrapbook layout! Did you know tomorrow is National Digital Scrapbooking Day? Of course you did!

  10. Your trick or treaters are precious! I don’t care for turnips no matter what you do with them! BLECH! I like seeing carved pumpkins! This past weekend our 6 year old grand-daughter stayed with us and we carved her pumpkin. I carved mine last night and posted some pictures on my S&T today of it and some of our past pumpkins.

  11. Wow, I wasn’t aware that pumpkin carving originated with Irish turnip carving! Thanks for sharing that info! 🙂

  12. ZIKES – JanMary,

    Your blog posts are so FULL, so RICH, so INTERESTING.

    You really capture the essence with both your photography and journalism.

    You’ve given me some terrific ideas, thanks for sharing. I’ve got to scoot, still in celebrating Mr. Miles birthday this weekend and he’s priority. I just could not resist to share show and tell, couldn’t let you down, right?

    LOL! Have a good weekend, my friend.

  13. We, used to, go more of a ‘day of the dead’ on Halloween. Texas is right next to Mexico, and many Mexicans live here, so it worked out great. I loved learning about the turnips (no blood, sweat, tears or turnips! LOL) and your pictures of pumpkin carving are wonderful! I hope you guys have lots of fun tonight! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

  14. It’s so neat to hear how others celebrate fall and the harvest in different countries. I think turnips would make interesting jack-o-lanterns!

  15. This is a great post. I did know about turnips-crazy wasn’t it? Even watermelons would make better Jack O’Lanterns if they were in season.
    Your children and their creativity shine! Happy Halloween!
    (thanks for stopping by my blog too)
    ~The Secret Gardener

  16. I like your decorations! Your Show and Tell was very interesting, about the turnips! I also like your scrapbooking, I too scrapbook, but not digitally.

    I wish you had some candy corn, it is very, very sweet!

  17. Halloween has become very commercial. I think I heard that it is the biggest moneymaker after Christmas.
    When I was growing up, our costumes were just like playing dress-up in Mother’s clothes. We did go door to door or later in the country we drove to the houses of friends and family. We were given things like popcorn balls, apples, etc.
    We didn’t carve pumpkins or decorate for Halloween.
    Mama Bear

  18. What beautiful pumpkin people you have! I love the spider-tot :), so cute! Yeah, I bet carving a turnip would be a major hard thing to do. I can barely cut them up to cook on the stove – wow! Your photos are great! Thanks for sharing with us. Please feel free to visit my blog anytime.

  19. Once again, JanMary, your kids are just gorgeous! It looks like you all had a fun Halloween…Kathy

  20. Oh I loved all the pictures and your story about Halloween. We weren’t much on the decorations and usually went to a church costume party.

  21. Oh that picture of the kids all together in their costumes and laughing is just priceless! Glad to hear you had a fun holiday and nice jack-o-lanterns!

  22. Love your pumpkins! So glad you don’t have to deal with turnips anymore! Very cool that you grew up in Ireland. I’ve always wanted to go there, but I’m a wus. So, I’ll probably never leave US soil. LOL!

  23. I LOVE IT ALL! ALL OF IT! I wish I had that little ceramic pumpkin man! He is TOO CUTE!
    The pictures are too cute as well!
    I can’t imagine having to try to carve a turnip! For one they are HARD AS A ROCK and NASTY too eat too! LOL

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