People have been making Jack O’ Lanterns at Halloween for centuries. This originated from an Irish myth about a blacksmith and drunk named Stingy Jack. According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him and true to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that he could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such a man into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with an ember from the fires of Hell to light his way. Jack put the ember into a turnip he carved out to light his way through the dark night. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then later known as the “Jack O’ Lantern.”
In Ireland and Scotland many people started to make their own carved lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips and potatoes to place in their windows and next to doors to scare away Stingy Jack and other evil spirits. The Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800’s prompted a massive immigration to the Americas.The Irish brought this tradition with them and discovered that turnips were not readily available in the Americas and it was then that they found pumpkins we larger and easier to carve.
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed learning the Legend of the Jack O’ Lantern!
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