Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The History behind the Jack-o-lantern

The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.

According to folklore, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.



Judith Leger said...

Kim, where on earth do you come up with these? They're great! Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Google is such a wonderful thing. :)

Kris said...

Haha, that story is kinda spooky but also pretty cool. I wonder what made Jack think the Devil would keep his promise? Just sayin'. =D