Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Fact: History of Jack O' Lantern

Jack O' Lantern, we see these carved pumpkins as decoration all over the streets during Halloween season. But did you know there's a story behind these Jack O' Lantern's? Yes, Jack O' Lantern are not just typical Halloween decorations, the history of these pumpkin came a long way ago. 

The whole concept originally started as an Irish myth that tells about a mischievous drunken man called "Stingy Jack" who tricked the devil   when he invited it to drink wit him. Given his title, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for the drink so he told the devil to turn himself into a silver coin so he could use it to buy their drinks.Once the devil obliged, Jack decided to keep the coin to himself and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross to prevent the devil from changing back into its original form. Eventually, Jack freed the devil under the condition that it will not bother him for one year and that if ever Jack will die, the devil should not claim his soul. The devil agreed to this. A year after, Jack again tricked the devil into climbing a tree, he then carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the devil couldn't not be able to come down until it promised never to disturb him for the next ten years.

Photo courtesy from Garden Faden
Later, when Jack died, as he his soul reached Heaven, St. Peter didn't allow him to enter the Gates of Heaven since he was too cruel, mean and mischievous. He was then sent down to the fiery gates of hell. But upon his arrival, the devil didn't allow him into hell, keeping its promise. Due to this, Jack had nowhere to go, back to roam and wander forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. But before he did, he asked the Devil to give him some fire to light his path, the devil then tossed him an ember from the fiery flames of Hell.  Jack placed the ember inside a hollow turnip, one of his favorite food in which he always carried around with him. Since that day, "Stingy Jack" endlessly roams the Earth, looking for a resting place with his "Jack O' Lantern", lighting his way.

That's why on Hallow's Eve, the Irish hollowed out turnips, gourds or potatoes and placed a light in them to ward off evil spirit and Stingy Jack himself. These were the original Jack O' Lanterns. In 1800's when Irish immigrants came to America, they noticed that pumpkins were bigger and was simpler to hollow out compare to turnips, so since then, pumpkins were used instead for Jack O' Lanterns.

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