BY MIKAYLA MARITCH
Many of us Americans already know that we carve pumpkins for Halloween. But did you know that in the beginning no one used pumpkins for Halloween? It all began in Ireland; in fact, no pumpkins existed in Ireland, but they did bring the tradition of carving pumpkins to America. Do you know who in Ireland began jack-o-lanterns? It all began with ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland. They carved turnips and stuck embers in them to ward off evil spirits and Stingy Jack. You are probably wondering, “Now who in the world is Stingy Jack?” Well, I’m about to tell you a legend that goes back hundreds of years in the Irish history. ‘Stingy Jack was basically the miserable town drunk who loved playing tricks on everyone and even Satan himself. So he played a trick on Satan by telling him to climb the apple tree, and so he did and then Jack stuck crosses at the bottom so Satan couldn’t get out until Satan promised not to take Jack’s soul when he dies so that he may live and enjoy Heaven. So Satan was like, “Okay, now let me down.” Then many years later Jack dies, and he went peacefully to Heaven. But then Jack wasn’t allowed to enter Heaven because he was cruel and led a miserable and worthless life. So Jack got sent to Hell, but the Devil kept his promise saying Jack couldn’t enter Hell. So now Jack was sent to the dark Netherworld between Heaven and Hell. Jack was worried he wouldn’t be able to see, so the Devil gave him some embers to carry for some light. Jack carved his turnip he carried because it was his favorite food and put the ember in so it would glow light. So from then on Jack has been roaming without a resting place, lighting his way with his jack-o-lantern.’ So now this is when the Irish would carve out their turnips, gourds, potatoes and beets so they could ward off the evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away on Halloween eve and night.
How did they end up here and why do we use pumpkins? Well, Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800’s, and they quickly discovered that pumpkins were easier to carve, so we have decided to carve pumpkins for Halloween so they can protect us. Happy Halloween and don’t forget to carve your pumpkin, or you might die of fright tonight!