Last year I was forced to carve a pumpkin by the Spanish school I was working at. I was pretty indignant about it at the time. I was of the opinion that my purpose at the school was to teach students about my culture, and in my culture we do not celebrate Halloween.
Down here in New Zealand Halloween is pretty non-existent. Maybe the odd business will put up a decoration or two and the odd person might make a token effort, but it’s really no more than a minor temporary theme for shop merchandising. If you weren’t paying attention then you wouldn’t know that Halloween was even happening.
So obviously when my school demanded that I carve a pumpkin to show the students I was pretty incensed about the whole ordeal. They had generalised me into the rest of the english speaking world and actually didn’t give a crap that I had no interest in Halloween, no ability to teach the kids about the History of it, and no knowledge of the jack o lantern carving process. Despite my attempts to politely inform the English department that I had no idea how to go about this, they were pretty insistent and next thing I knew, I was trawling supermarkets looking for pumpkins.
Eventually I located a couple of specially packaged small orange pumpkins at El Corte Ingles, and after forking out what seemed like way too much money for such tiny pumpkins, I set off home to engage in a bit of pumpkin carving.
I have to admit that I was pretty intrigued by the pumpkins. I had never seen an orange pumpkin in real life before. I know that they allegedly do exist in New Zealand, but I have never come across one. Prior to this little adventure, I had only ever encountered pumpkins in various shades of green.
Of course, the intrigue of the colour of the pumpkin was not enough to balance out how much more infuriated I was getting with every step of the process. I genuinely resent being forced to do things that I don’t want to do, so by the time I reached my apartment with the pumpkins in tow I was properly fuming.
Nevertheless, I did manage one small, very basic jack o lantern.
I completely obliterated the first pumpkin on my first attempt – but the second one turned out quite cute I thought. And the process was quite cathartic as well, so I was significantly less enraged about Halloween by the time I had finished.
The next day when I showed up at school with my wee pumpkin pal, I was forced to parade the damn thing to all my classes at school – a process which I found no less than mortifying. But I dutifully did as I was told. And the kids all seemed fascinated by the pumpkin head. They are, however, now one step further away from knowing anything about New Zealand though.
A year on, and I have apparently forgotten all my disdain for Halloween.
In fact, if truth be told, in recent years I have been wondering whether we shouldn’t make more of an attempt to embrace Halloween. I know that everyone around these parts views it as foreign commercial malarkey, but I can’t help but feel that maybe if we had Halloween, christmas wouldn’t be forced down our throats so early in the year.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I genuinely loathe christmas.
If we had Halloween to break up the year, then shops wouldn’t be so eager to get their christmas displays into our faces at the end of September. There would be something else to distract us in the meantime.
The combination of these feelings on the matter, along with the fact that I have been following the process of a dear friend from the USA’s costume making attempts via snapchat made me want to do something to get into the spirit of Halloween this year. That way I could slowly but surely start to force Halloween onto those around me, and eventually onto the wider society.
So I decided to carve a pumpkin.
I asked the aforementioned american friend for a quick rundown on the process, and then I set off in search of a pumpkin or two.
As I mentioned previously, it is pretty difficult to find a pumpkin that isn’t green. So I ended up attempting to make a jack o lantern from a pale green pumpkin.
The whole ordeal quickly devolved into a big disaster.
I made a video about it too.
Watch it if you want….
I should note that I think that the pumpkins that were available to me at the time were obviously the wrong sort of pumpkin. While I struggled to carve the pumpkin in Spain, it turned out to be IMPOSSIBLE in New Zealand…