Can’t score a beautiful orange pumpkin this Halloween? Why not try carving a turnip instead?
Using this year’s pumpkin shortage in the UK as an opportunity to promote their bizarre turnip carving ways, English Heritage, an organization dedicated to preserving English history, has suggested people in their native country try reviving the original Halloween tradition of carving root vegetables.
According to the Independent, turnips were the OG pumpkins, with Brits carving scary faces into them long before people in the U.S. realized pumpkins were far easier to work with. “The tradition emerged from a folk tale about a man named Jack who, after trying to trick the devil, was forced to roam the earth with only a burning coal inside a hollowed out turnip—or the original Jack o’lantern,” the site writes. Although, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Oxford English Dictionary finds references to pumpkins as jack-o’-lanterns at approximately the same time the term started to appear in England.
Regardless of which came first, the turnip or the pumpkin, owing to heavy August rains, the UK is facing a serious pumpkin shortfall, with crops down about 50 percent, according to one source. So Dr. Michael Carter, a historian with English Heritage, believes switching to scary turnips doesn’t just reinforce the British Isles rich heritage, it’s also practical. “I don't think turnips are going to replace pumpkins, they are more difficult to carve, but hopefully people will remember the turnip and all our other rich traditions this Halloween,” he told the Independent.
His suggestion definitely reinforces one rich tradition: the tradition of some stodgy old British dude thinking he knows better than the rest of the world.