Happy Halloween, Everyone! 🎃
Every year at this time, houses in the US and globally are decorated with orange gourds with scary faces carved in them. Jack-o’-Lanterns as they are called are actually an Irish Myth which was adopted in the US. Originally the lanterns were made from turnips and potatoes. Since pumpkins are native to America, they were adopted over the years to make the lanterns.
Read on if you want to know the story of how this tradition came about 🎃 –
Long, long time ago in Ireland, lived a roughish man named Jack. His most defining quality was his stinginess, which earned him the name of “Stingy Jack”. He refused to pay for the things he bought and was known to skip the bill whenever he could. One night, Jack was on his way to the bar when he met the Devil, who was wandering the streets of his town. Not one to shy away from a conversation, he invited the Devil to share his evening of frolic with him. In the bar, they ordered drinks and had a wonderful time as they laughed and shared stories with each other.
But, when it was time to pay the bill, Jack looked at the Devil and said, “I don’t have any money 💰 to pay for the drinks.” The Devil stared at Jack sternly and told him, “I don’t have any money either. You invited me to have drinks with you. How do you not have money?”
Jack thought about the situation and an idea struck him. “How about you turn into a silver coin and we can pay the bill and once the bill is paid you can turn back to your original form?” suggested Jack. The Devil thought for a while and since there was no better way to pay and saw no harm in the suggestion. He said, “Alright.” In the wink of an eye, the man sitting in front of Jack turned into a silver coin which landed on the table.
When Jack saw the silver coin, true to his nature thought that if he could slip out of the bar without anyone seeing him, he could pocket the silver coin and not pay the bill. He slipped the coin into his coat pocket and when no one was looking in his direction rushed out the door. Now, the pocket in which Jack put the transformed Devil was the same one in which he kept a small silver cross. The Devil tried to turn back to his original form but his powers were useless due to his proximity to the cross.
A few days went by and Devil just stayed in the pocket. One day, when Jack was sleeping, he heard a voice whispering, “Release me, you fool!!”. Jack woke up and he heard the voice again. The voice was coming from the coin in his coat pocket. Jack realized the trouble he was in and hence struck a deal with the Devil before releasing him that he would not claim his soul for a year. When he was released, the Devil was furious and warned Jack that he would be back for him after ten years.
Years passed by and the Devil returned, true to his word. Jack who knew the Devil would be coming for him, planned to trick the Devil again. He tricked the Devil into climbing a fruit tree 🌳 so he could have his favorite fruit before he went with the devil. The Devil climbed the tree and Jack quickly carved a cross on the trunk of the tree. The Devil was at the mercy of Jack again. Jack made a deal that the Devil would never claim his soul and should leave him alone.
Eventually, Jack died. His unfavorable soul was rejected by Heaven. It went to the gates of Hell and the Devil rejected his soul and said he would not claim his soul since he had given him his word. He laughed at Jack’s soul. He handed him a burning piece of coal to light his way and roam the darkness of the earth. Jack took the piece of coal and using a turnip made a lantern and has roamed the earth in darkness ever since.
The Samhain Festival, a traditional Gaelic version of All Hallows’ Eve marks the start of the “darker half” of the year. Ever since then, Jack-o’-Lanterns were made during the Hallows month to frighten away “Stingy Jack” and other evil wandering evil spirits or travelers. The making of lanterns would later translate to other myths like that of the headless horseman.
Hope you enjoyed this read and you remember the story of “Stingy Jack” when you see the pumpkins lining houses. Below are some pictures from a pumpkin patch I visited this year. How did you carve your pumpkin?