History of Jack-o-Lanterns

How many of you knew that carving a Jack-o-Lantern at Halloween is an old Irish tradition? Those who didn't know that don't feel bad. Neither did I. If you didn't know that, then you probably didn't know that the original Jack-o-Lantern wasn't even a pumpkin. Ok so here is how the legend goes.

Hundreds of years ago in Ireland, there was a man named Stingy Jack who was a miserable, old drunk. He loved to play tricks on everyone including family, friends and even the Devil himself. One time, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree and once he was up there, Stingy Jack placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Since The Devil was unable to come down the tree, Jack made him promise not to take his soul when he died. Once the promise was made, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.

Years later, Stingy Jack died and his soul went to the pearly gates. Unfortunately, Saint Peter denied him access to Heaven. Saint Peter told him that he was too mean and cruel and led a miserable worthless life on Earth. since he wasn't allowed in Heaven, he went down to Hell. Slthough, The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Stingy Jack asked The Devil how he could leave since there was no light. The Devil gave him a few embers from the flames of Hell which he placed in a hollow out Turnip to light his way. Since then, Stingy Jack roamed the Earth without a resting place and lighting "Jack-o-Lanterns" along the way.

Ever since then on all Hallow's Eve, the Irish hallowed out Turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, gourds and beets. They place a light in them to ward off Stingy Jack and other evil spirits. In the 1800s, a group of Irish immigrants came to America. They discovered that Pumpkins were much larger and easier to carve out. Thus, the reason why we carve Jack-o-Lanterns every year on all Hallow's Eve.

So, go pick out your pumpkins and get your carving knives ready. Get creative but don't forget to put them outside on Halloween. Wouldn't want Stingy Jack paying you a visit. ;)

For more information and maybe a few ideas for Halloween: http://www.pumpkinnook.com/facts/jack.htm

*Matthews, Bob (1998-2005). History of the Jack-o-Lantern. Retrieved on October 18th, 2005 from the Pumpkin Nook web site: http://www,pumpkinnook.com.


Anonymous said…
Always loved this story, partly because the devil gets stuck up a tree, partly because Jack's like the unofficial spirit of Halloween.

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