If you read my previous post on A Brief History of Faeries, you’ll know I talked a bit about jack-o-lanterns, better known as will-o-the-wisps. This week, I’m talking about Jack-o-lanterns as we know them– the pumpkins we carve for Halloween.
HALLOWEEN! The most magical time of the year! Take a seat kiddos (dunno why you’d be standing) while I tell you about the origins of pumpkin lamps!
It all began in Ireland with a man nicknamed Stingy Jack! Apparently, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him but he didn’t want to pay for his drink. Thinking he was clever, Jack convinced the Devil to turn into a coin to pay for their drinks. The Devil did so and Jack pocketed the coin next to a silver cross so the Devil couldn’t turn back. I’m surprised the Devil did that to begin with and didn’t play a trick on him of some kind, but I mean, hey, he’s the Devil. He’s probably got a plan. Anywho, Jack promised to release the Devil under the condition that the Devil shouldn’t bother him for one year and that, if Jack were to die, the Devil couldn’t claim his soul. A year passed and the Devil and Jack are hanging out again (???) when Jack asks the Devil to climb a tree to pick a piece of fruit. The Devil does so and Jack carves a cross in the bark of the tree to prevent the Devil from climbing down until he promised to leave Jack alone for ten years.
Soon after, Jack died. God was like, “Heck no! No one who hangs out with the Devil can come into my super selective club called Heaven!” And the Devil, true to his word, wouldn’t claim Jack’s soul. Instead, he sent Jack into the dead of night with only a coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to this floating light as Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’Lantern. The Irish and Scottish began to carve faces into potatoes and turnips to ward off Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England they carved faces into beets! As people immigrated from the Isles to the US, they found pumpkins (native to the US) were the perfect jack-o-lanterns.
So when you carve this Halloween, keep Jack by your door.
Happy Halloween dear readers! Be safe and have fun!
Thank you for reading,
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