When I was a kid, up in the North East of England, there was none of this pumpkin carving business, we were tough, we hollowed out turnips for our lanterns.
If you’ve ever tried to hollow out a turnip, you’ll know that a pumpkin is a much better option, pumpkins are soft and easy to carve, turnips are not. Anyhow, I now live down South, and there was not a turnip to be seen on Halloween. So I did some searching, and discovered that the turnip lanterns were the original Jack O Lantern, and is an Irish custom, therefore it was not surprising that in Gateshead we had the turnip lanterns as there was a lot of Irish immigration into that area in the 19th century. The Irish weren’t only coming to the North of England however and those that emigrated to the USA continued their tradition but used the more plentiful (and easier to carve) pumpkins, a tradition that has since been re-imported into the UK and here in the South everyone is carving pumpkins.
Maybe next year I’ll make the Small Person carve a turnip, tell her it is tradition.