Share with AddThis

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Legends: The Jack O' Lantern

How did Jack O' Lanterns become a part of the North American Halloween tradition? 
As the Legend goes, the tradition actually began in Ireland. There was an Irishman known as Stingy Jack. Jack was an old drunk, a miserable man. He loved nothing better than to play mean tricks on others. No one was immune from his nasty tricks - not his family or his friends. Not his mother, or even the devil himself. As the story goes, stingy Jack tricked the devil into climbing up into an apple tree. Once the devil made the climb, however, Stingy Jack covered the trunk of the tree with crosses. The Devil, of course, could not go near the crosses. He therefore wasn't able to get down out of the tree until and unless Stingy Jack removed the crosses. Stingy Jack offered to do just that, but not unless the devil promised Jack that he would not claim Jack's soul when Jack died.

Stingy Jack, the ornery old designer of the first Jack O Lantern, finally died, of course. He headed straight to Heaven's pearly gates where Saint Peter informed he that he could not enter. He had just led too cruel and too mean a life on earth. He was too worthless and miserable a former human being to be able to enter into heaven. So Jack had no choice. He next went to hell and spoke to the devil. The devil couldn't and wouldn't let him into hell either, because he had made the promise back in that apple tree. Now still stingy Jack was thoroughly frightened, as he had nowhere to go. He was going to be doomed to wander in the darkness between heaven and hell for eternity.
Stingy Jack then asked the devil how he would be able to get back and forth since there was no lighting by which he could see his way. The devil took heart on Stingy Jack and threw him an ember that came from Hell's flames. This, he said, would help Stingy Jack see in the dark. Jack took the ember and placed it inside of a turnip - the first Jack o Lantern - that he had hollowed out. Turnip was one of his favorite choices of food so he always had one with him if he found one he could steal from somewhere. Stingy Jack then started on his never-ending journey, with no rest.


No comments:

Post a Comment