Jackolantern.jpgA brightly lit pumpkin with a ghastly glowing face sits on the porch. It is one of the most well recognized Halloween traditions. However, do you know where this tradition originated?

During the 1800’s, immigrants from the Irish Potato Famine brought their use of this lantern. Back then, pumpkins were not used. A burning lump of coal was placed inside a hollowed out turnip, potato, or beet. These were left on doorsteps to ward off evil spirits and to welcome the souls of a departed loved one. The pumpkin didn’t begin to be used until the Victorian Era.

Jack, an Irishman, was known for his drinking and his mischief. He drank so much in fact that his soul began to leave his body one All Hallow’s Eve. The Devil wanted to claim Jack’s soul but Jack begged for one more drink. The Devil agreed to this only if Jack paid the tab himself and didn’t make the Devil pay it. However, Jack had only a sixpence and asked the Devil to change into a sixpence to cover the price of the bar tab. After payment, Jack assured, the Devil could change back. As soon as the Devil changed into the coin, Jack snatched it up and kept it in a cross adorned wallet. He only agreed to let the Devil out if the Devil agreed to stop wanting Jack’s soul for a year. The Devil agreed to this and was freed.

The next All Hallow’s Eve found Jack in the bar drinking again. The Devil returned and demanded Jack’s soul. Jack told the Devil he should partake of one of the apples in the orchard and that the Devil could stand on his shoulders to reach one. Once the Devil got up the tree to get the apple, Jack carved a cross into the tree trunk and trapped the Devil there. Frustrated, the Devil offered Jack ten years of freedom for his release. Jack refused, asking for freedom for life. The Devil agreed to this.

Before the next All Hallow’s Eve, Jack died of natural causes. Refused in heaven, Jack saw the Devil in Hell. The Devil cast him out to wander the earth, tossing him a coal piece to light his way. This burning coal piece Jack shoved into a turnip and used as a lantern. This was his light for his walk through eternity. Now Jack O’Lanterns are left so that Jack will take one of these instead of bothering the home owner for a light.