Instead of Jack-o-lanterns, people on the Isle of Man carve ‘Moots’
How to carve turnip lanterns for Halloween or as it’s called on the Isle of Man, Hop tu Naa. Includes a DIY video at the end
Hop tu Naa on the Isle of Man is celebrated in much the same way and on the same day as Halloween. Not much is different and you’ll see trick-or-treaters, share scary tales, and indulge in plenty of sweets. There are differences though, one being that turnips are carved as jack-o-lanterns instead of pumpkins. Carved ‘Moots’ have been made for centuries and many families still make them to this day.
It was my first time to carve a turnip. Swede actually. Rutabega if you’re from the states. However you want to call this cabbagey root vegetable. It’s interesting to think that I never saw a turnip in person until I was a teenager and didn’t taste one until my 20s. They’re as uncommon where I grew up as pumpkins were in the UK until relatively recently.
Though most turnips are carved with scary Jack-o-lantern type faces I chose to go with a prettier and more Autumn styled design for my first attempt. The process started with hollowing out the inside of a turnip with a knife, a spoon, and plenty of hacking. There has got to be a quicker way of doing it and I’d appreciate it if you can share any suggestions.
Next I used a few sharp yet blunt tools to carve a design into the exterior. Only a few millimeters deep, I was surprised by how much light came through when the turnip votive was lit. I’m actually fairly impressed with how pretty the light coming from the turnip is when sitting in a dark room. I could definitely see these eco-friendly decorations being used as table decorations for autumn parties and events.
It took me about an hour to make my turnip votive with most of that time being spent carving the exterior. As a beginner I’d recommend large blocky designs to start off with since I found that the skin of the turnip pulled away when I tried to carve too intricately. I also didn’t actually cut any of the designs all the way through the turnip since just scraping a basic design on the outside is enough to let more light through than the un-carved bits. The candle inside the turnip is a standard tea light.
Update: in 2017 we made moots by first using a drill to hollow out the centres. Have a watch of the video below.