Do you know why we carve pumpkins and call them Jack O’Lanterns?
Apparently, the tradition stems from Irish folklore, and the story of Stingy Jack.
Stingy Jack was a mean drunkard who liked to play tricks on everyone, including the Devil. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree, and then placed crosses around its trunk to trap the Devil up in the tree. The Devil struck a deal with Jack–if he would remove the crosses, the Devil would not take his soul when he died. This sounded like a good deal to Jack, so he removed the crosses and let the Devil go.
When Jack died, he stood before Saint Peter at the pearly gates of Heaven, but was refused entry. Saint Peter told him that he had been too mean and would not be permitted in heaven.
So Jack went down to Hell and met the Devil. But the Devil kept his promise and would not let Jack into Hell. Having been refused entry into Heaven and Hell, Jack was going to have to spend eternity wandering in the darkness.
Jack asked the Devil for help getting out of hell, and the Devil gave him a burning ember to light the way. Jack hollowed out a turnip he had in his pocket, and put the ember in that.
From that day forward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth and became known as “Jack O’Lantern.”
On all Hallow’s eve, the Irish made their own “lanterns” and put them by their front doors to keep evil spirits–and Stingy Jack–away. Originally, they used hollowed out turnips and other vegetables common in Ireland, but when they emigrated to America, pumpkins became the “lantern” of choice because they are bigger and easier to carve. Have you heard the story of Stingy Jack?
Do you carve pumpkins for Halloween?