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  Section title: Activities


Carved Turnip Head

In Ireland, people celebrated Hallowe'en long before the tradition became popular in North America. This festival was called Samhain or Celtic New Year. At Samhain, people celebrated by carving turnip Jack-o'-lanterns. Irish immigrants brought the tradition with them to North America in the 1840s. Pumpkins were plentiful in the New World, and easy to carve, so eventually they were used instead of turnips.


  • turnip
  • marker
  • knife
    Note: Ask an adult to help you because turnips are much harder to carve than pumpkins.
  • spoon or melon baller
  • newspaper


Materials needed for a carved turnip head.   Step 1. Slice the top off the turnip.
Step 2. Hollow out the turnip, leaving a wall about 1 cm (½ inch) thick.   Step 3. Draw your face on the turnip. (If you like, research Celtic art and try a Celtic face.)

Step 4. Carefully carve the face.   Your Irish turnip head is done! (Keep your turnip head fresh longer by placing it in cold water if you're not using it right away.)

Under adult supervision, turnip heads can be taken outside and lit with tea lights or small candles.

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