Published on October 17th, 2012 | by Jane


History of the Jack-o-Lantern

Ever heard of Stingy Jack? Yeah, me neither. But then I did a little bit of digging and found out all about him and his myth. Though the name Stingy Jack may be long forgotten, you’ve definitely heard about the pumpkin named after him. Or actually, it was originally a turnip (ew). But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning. (CUE FLASHBACK!)

An Irish myth tells the story of Stingy Jack, a man who was, well cheap. He tried to get the better of the devil, which really was a stupid plan, but I think you’re starting to get a good idea of what this Jack fellow was all about. By tricking the devil into sticky situations and then trapping him by carving crosses, Jack was able to avoid going to hell when he died, which I can get but maybe by not being nefarious in the first place, hell would have been avoided all together. But I digress.

However, once he did die, no one wanted him in heaven. And really, could you blame them? This was an icky guy. And yet, the devil had to stay true to his word. He couldn’t allow Jack into hell based on their agreement. So what did he do? He simply let Jack out into the cold night with only a burning coal to light his way (ouch!). Jack carved out a turnip and put the coal into it. As the legend goes, he’s been roaming ever since. The Irish called him “Jack of the Lantern” or as we have now come to know him, “Jack-o-Lantern.” Oooh did you see that coming?

To scare away the spirit of Stingy Jack (or other nasty ghosts), people started carving their own vegetables (eventually, once the tradition came to America, people started using pumpkins instead of turnips) into scary faces to ward off evil from their doors.

People have gotten pretty creative with their Jack-O-Lanterns in the past few years. Here’s some great pictures of them!

Jack-O-Lantern “Death Star?” Nerdtastic!

Look it’s a Hanklerfish! Or, just an Anglerfish.

Uh-oh. Someone’s been bad.

Are you guys making any Jack-O-Lanterns this year? Any cool ideas? Share them below (with pix if you’d like)!

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