The Infamous “Jack O’Lantern”
The origin of carving a pumpkin
ASSOCIATED WITH THE HUB TITLED "What's the Deal with Halloween?"
Whose idea was it anyway?
Actually, that’s a very good question. Who did start the tradition of carving out pumpkins into faces for Halloween (a.k.a. All Hallow’s Eve)?
The Myth of Stingy Jack:
Jack of the Lantern
The Irish folklore goes like this.
There was this guy named Stingy Jack who lived in Ireland. He was so stingy, that he really lived up to his name (Stingy Jack).
Stingy Jack was so stingy, that when the townsfolk began to complain about him being so stingy, it began to weigh in on the mayor of this small Irish town. So the mayor asked Stingy Jack to participate in the upcoming holiday, All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), by handing out treats to children during their “trick-or-treating”.
Stingy Jack agreed.
When Halloween arrived and the children visited the home of Stingy Jack, it seems that Stingy Jack handed out potatoes & turnips instead of sweet treats as it customarily called for.
The towns folk was upset with Stingy Jack and decided to give him the silent treatment for the rest of his life.
This didn’t bother Stingy Jack in the slightest, so he thought. After spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and then the New Year being completely ignored, this eventually took a toll on Stingy Jack. By the time Valentine’s Day came and went, Stingy Jack couldn’t take it anymore.
One day, Stingy Jack spent all day alone in the town’s only tavern. Nobody would speak to Stingy Jack, so Stingy Jack decided to invite the devil to come have a drink.
The devil eventually showed up, so Stingy Jack drank with him. When the bill came, Stingy Jack thought that he shouldn’t have to pay because he was drinking with the devil. The devil said that he couldn’t pay because he didn’t have any pockets to keep his money in. So Stingy Jack thought of a plan.
The plan was simple.
Stingy Jack told the devil to turn himself into a gold coin and with him being a gold coin, he would pay for the drinks with that. Then, when the barkeeper isn’t looking, the devil would turn himself back into himself and then walk away.
The devil agreed.
So when the devil turned himself into a gold coin, Stingy Jack placed the gold coin in his pocket right next to a silver cross. Doing this entrapped the devil inside the gold coin, disabling him from turning himself back. Stingy Jack then paid the bill with his own money and went home.
Once Stingy Jack got home, he made another deal with the devil.
The deal was that the devil could never bother Stingy Jack or anything of his for one year. The devil agreed and Stingy Jack freed the devil.
Before the year was up, however, the devil came to inform Stingy Jack that his one year was almost over. Stingy Jack knew that the year was about to expire, and so to show that there wasn’t any hard feelings, Stingy Jack asked the devil if he would like to stay for a piece of fruit.
The devil agreed.
So, Stingy Jack asked the devil to climb the fruit tree to retrieve some fruit. The devil, not thinking anything could go wrong, simply complied, but that’s when Stingy Jack hurried and carved a cross into the bark of the tree.
Doing this entrapped the devil in the tree, because the cross was carved so deep into the tree’s bark it would not allow the devil to climb down.
Once again, Stingy Jack tricked the devil. He knew that the devil couldn’t climb down. This was the perfect opportunity to change things, so he made another deal with the devil. This time, the deal would be for ten years instead of one; same as before, but just one more thing was to be added.
The added part of this new “ten-year” deal was simple. It was that if Stingy Jack would happen to die, EVER, the devil WILL NOT & CANNOT claim his soul – no matter what sins he has committed here on Earth.
The devil agreed.
Unfortunately, Stingy Jack died before going into his third year with this new “ten year” deal he made with the devil. So Stingy Jack ascended into Heaven. But God was most unhappy with Stingy Jack, and how he went about to assure himself a place in Heaven. Never having to fear the devil ever claiming his soul…? This made God upset, so He wouldn’t let Stingy Jack into Heaven either.
The devil, keeping his word, still wouldn’t claim Stingy Jack’s soul.
Stingy Jack was sent back to Earth to wander in the shadows (like the Shadow Folk), with only his turnips & potatoes that were carved out and to be used as a lantern for punishment. He was then known as “Jack of the Lantern”, which eventually turned into Jack O’Lantern.
When the Irish immigrated to the United States, the folklore followed them. So the pumpkin became the favored fruit for making a Jack O’Lantern, since the pumpkin was native to the Americas, and they were plentiful.