Monday, October 20, 2008

Where did Jack O'Lanterns come from?

Okay gang.... a little halloween history here. This history lesson comes from an article by Erica Smith that was in the "Today & Tonight" magazine. I found it pretty interesting, hope you do too.
Families have been making jack o'lanterns for centuries at Halloween. Irish myth tells of a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack". " According to the legend, Stingy Jack asked the Devil to have a drink with him. The Devil accepted. But Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for the drinks, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin for Jack to use to pay for the drinks. The Devil agreed, and when he became a coin, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross. This prevented the Devil from changing back. Jack eventually let the Devil go free, but not before the got the Devil to promise not bother Jack for a year and that in the event that Jack should die, the Devil could not take his soul. When the year was up, Jack tricked the Devil again. This time he got the Devil to climb a tree to pick some fruit. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack carved the image of a cross in the bark of the tree. The Devil had to promise not to bother Jack for the next 10 years before he could come down. Not too long after that, Jack died. The legend has it that GOD would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, keeping his promise and very upset by the tricks Jack had played on him, would not allow Jack into hell. The Devil sent Jack off into the night with just a burning coal to light his way. Jack put his coal in a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish called him Jack of the Lantern, which, of course, became Jack O'Lantern. Irish and Scottish people began making their own versions by carving scary faces in turnips and potatoes. They placed them in windows or near doorways to frighten away Stingy Jack and other evil spirits. The English used large beets. Immigrants from these countries brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern with them. They found a fruit, native to America, that would make perfect Jack O'Lanterns. You guessed it.....pumpkins. I thought this was very interesting and never truly realized how much our Celtic ancestors influenced our own Halloween. By the way.....the picture at the top is a Jack O'Lantern house....that's right....a house.


Andi said...

That was interesting Bonnie. I don't recall ever hearing that story before. That house looks pretty would definitely get some "trick or treaters" there!

Granny Annie said...

I will be sharing this great story. Never heard it. Thanks Bonnie.

My mother's favorite Halloween poem was this:
Five little jack-o-lanterns sitting on a gate.
The 1st one said, "My, it's getting late."
The 2nd one said, "I hear a noise."
The 3rd one said, "Oh it's only some boys."
The 4th one said, "Let's run, let's run."
The 5th one said, "It's only Halloween fun."
Then poooooooosh went the wind, and out went the light.
And away ran the jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night.

Mom would tell this holding up five fingers, folding over one for each comment, then she would blow out the lights and quickly move the fist out of sight around to her back.

Cecile said...

Very interesting!!!
I love the decor on that house:))

Missy's Blog said...

That's an amazing way to create a jack-o-lantern and so interesting to find out the history!

We are going to carve ours hopefully today!