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Old 01.11.2012, 14:14
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Carving a turnip? What do you use?

We are carving turnips in my kids school next week. I have never carved one before yet alone ever seen a turnip. Is there a specific tool I should bring to carve with or where could I buy these tools in Zurich?

Thanks!
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:18
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Turnips are pretty tough things. I would be very careful if the children are carving them themselves, you will need some very sharp knives.
These are turnips...

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Old 01.11.2012, 14:20
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Look out for the special tools in Migros and Coop. They look like little ice cream scoops with a sharp edge.

Using a knife is tricky and can be dangerous for little people. The dedicated tool is much more suitable for the job.
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:24
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Metal cookie cutters are good for doing the outline of shapes on the turnip. If you have a melon scoop it can be used to get the insides out. Be prepared for a big competition as to who makes the best carvings, the Swiss parents will all looking to have the most intricate patterns and will come armed to the teeth with implements of mass carving.
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:33
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

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Metal cookie cutters are good for doing the outline of shapes on the turnip. If you have a melon scoop it can be used to get the insides out. Be prepared for a big competition as to who makes the best carvings, the Swiss parents will all looking to have the most intricate patterns and will come armed to the teeth with implements of mass carving.
I've never heard of this before, except when we used to carve swedes into lanterns for Halloween. Where does the tradition come from?
Any pics of carved turnips?
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:36
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

My kids school does it every year

http://www.google.ch/search?q=r%C3%A...w=1366&bih=663
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:37
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Answering my own request, just found these, amazing!

http://momstotszurich.blogspot.ch/20...-festival.html
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:41
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

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Where does the tradition come from?
The ancient Celts of Rhaetia used to celebrate samhain with lanterns made from the skulls of their ancestors. This practice continued well into the 19th century, only gradually being replaced by carved turnips under the instruction of the clergy.

I've heard rumours that there are parts of Schwyz where old habits die hard, though...
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:44
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

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Answering my own request, just found these, amazing!

http://momstotszurich.blogspot.ch/20...-festival.html
Additionally Please remember you will never carve holes in the Räbeliechtli (unlike pumpkins). It was always a bit tricky as a kid, you wanted to have it as thin as possible but not to thin that you will end up with a hole in it.

The biggest event is the one in Richterswil.
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Old 01.11.2012, 14:47
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Reminds me of the St. Martin's parades in Germany my kids went to when we lived in Germany, it's on November 11th. But they all carried cardboard/paper lanterns, no turnips.
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Old 01.11.2012, 16:40
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

In Kindergarten, it is the parents who do the carving and not the kids. Once I realised the standard expected, I rose to the occasion by first drawing my design on the outside in pencil and then used a Swiss Army pocket knife to do the actual carving as I found this to be the best for taking the thin top layer off (rather like peeling a vegetable). As someone else warned you, don't cut through the turnip and try to choose a wide one rather than a long one.

The next problem you have is finding the optimum length candle to stick through it, long enough to burn throughout the parade but not long enough to set the back of the kid's hair in front alight. I also used to nick a beer mat, make a hole in it to push the candle through, cover it in foil and place it under the turnip so that the candle wax didn't drip onto my childrens' hands.

Have fun!
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Old 01.11.2012, 16:49
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

When I first saw this thread, I thought it said "Carrying a turnip? What do you use?".

After my double take, I'm not so sure which is crazier
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Old 01.11.2012, 18:48
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

You can either draw on the turnip directly or use a paper cut-out that you put on the turnip and carve along the cut-out. As stated you only take away the outer layer, don't cut a hole. You normally do that before you take out the "fruit" within the turnip meaning you do the carving when it's still untouched within. Only after that you will take out the inner part of the turnip.

You can buy a special spoon at Coop or Mirgros or just use a regular spoon, that works perfectly as well. Just be careful not the tear it at the end. The more you take out the better the light can be seen.

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The next problem you have is finding the optimum length candle to stick through it, long enough to burn throughout the parade but not long enough to set the back of the kid's hair in front alight. I also used to nick a beer mat, make a hole in it to push the candle through, cover it in foil and place it under the turnip so that the candle wax didn't drip onto my childrens' hands.
Actually you usually don't carry them in the hand you rather use a stick and tie the string from the string to the turnip or just tie the string onto the turnip and carry the string. See the picture for reference http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QsrZ9Ayilc...li+%284%29.JPG

It is much easier to carry the turnip that way (and more common). If you do that you just use a tea-light - much easier isn't it http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=h...9QEwAA&dur=749
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Old 01.11.2012, 19:04
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Räbeliechtli carving ...... 2 words - melon baller.

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Old 01.11.2012, 19:06
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

As for the surface design, I would recommend a pairing knife used in the traditional manner as you hold it sort of backwards with the blade toward your thumb and the knife held under your other four fingers. By keeping the thumb anchored to the surface of the turnip you will have more control and not cut yourself. Don't get stuck by keeping the turnip on the table always, too hard! Keep it in the other hand and work back on it almost upside down as you would peeling the skin off an onion. Remember these knives are very sharp!

This doesn't work for all cuts but should for most. Hope it makes sense as it is kind of hard to describe.
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Old 01.11.2012, 19:15
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

By the way, are these festivals found in other areas of Switzerland??? Would love to go but Zurich is a little far....
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Old 01.11.2012, 20:29
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Just don't forget to heat the melon slightly before you ball it.


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Räbeliechtli carving ...... 2 words - melon baller.

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Old 01.11.2012, 20:44
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

Doesn`t have to be very fancy carving - the light shining thru makes the simplest designs look good.

In the photo you`ll see the piece of board covered with tin foil thru which the candle is inserted. As the candle burns down, the kid pushes it up - in the end the lid is cooked! And I`ve noticed the children eating the "cooked" lid The lid is suspended on on long toothpick things stuck into the flesh of vege - so leave a good rim for this. Well, anyway, that`s how it`s done in my village here.

We have our Raebelichtli parade tomorrow night - the entire village is in darkness while the children parade thru the streets, singing their "Welcome to Winter" songs.
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Old 15.11.2012, 13:13
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Re: Carving a turnip? What do you use?

I just walked past our local primary school and saw children carrying these, at first I couldn't work out what they were.
Ominously, there was also a fire engine parked in the playground! I suppose it was a good time for a fire safety lesson.
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