Pour yourself a cup of hot apple cider and snuggle up to the glowing warmth of your laptop monitor, because I’ve got a little known Halloween story to tell you. Everyone loves the Jack O’Lantern, but very few people know the legend of the man named Jack, and how the pumpkin lantern was made.
Jack, an Irish man, grew up in a simple village where he earned a reputation for cleverness as well as laziness. He applied his fine intelligence to wiggling out of any work that was asked of him, preferring to lie under a solitary oak endlessly sleeping. In order to earn money to spend at the local pub, he looked for easy money from gambling, a pastime at which he excelled. In his whole life he never made a single enemy, never made a single friend and never performed a selfless act for anyone. Stingy Jack, a miserable and old drunk, liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself.
One day, he tricked the devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter Heaven. He then went down to Hell.
But the Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between Heaven and Hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him a burning coal from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one.
For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern”.
Since, on all Hallow’s eve, the Irish hollowed out turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away.
The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O’Lantern to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns! (Source: http://www.pumpkinnook.com/facts/jack.htm)
And we’ve been having fun with the idea ever since! Happy Halloween!