Picture by Maniac Pumpkin Carvers
BY DILLYN HIGGINBOTTOM
So I read over a few different pages to find the legend of the Jack O’ Lantern. The only reason I had checked over a few pages instead of one was because I honestly did not quite understand or believe any of the things I was reading. Even though I still do not believe what I have read about this, I am still going to try explaining how I comprehended what the legend of the Jack O’ Lantern is.
What I had found that had told about the legend was a story called, “The Tale of Stingy Jack and the Jack O’ Lantern.” Before the legend part had started, it had said how the Irish had brought the tradition of carving all pumpkins into cool scary faces, also known as Jack O’ Lanterns, to America. But back then pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. The Ancient Celtic in Ireland had used alternatives as pumpkins such as turnips. After they had carved into the turnip, they placed an ember in them, and that was supposed to ward off evil spirits.
After reading more into this, I found out that there is a lot of stories that center around Stingy Jack, which I will discuss later on, but this is the most popular one. So apparently this Stingy Jack person was not a very good person, I guess you could say. He was more of an unhappy old drunk dude that had enjoyed and taken pleasure into playing tricks on everyone he knew, this included family, friends, his own mom, and then it said even the Devil. I was weirded out by that one though. Stingy Jack would play quite a few tricks upon the Devil. One of these tricks included how he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil had climbed the tree, Jack had quickly placed down crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was unable to touch a cross, so he was basically then stuck in the tree. So Jack made the Devil promise something. Jack made the Devil promise to not take his soul when he died. So the Devil ended up going with the promise so he could get down from the tree. That is when Stingy Jack collected and removed all the crosses, and then the Devil was able to exit the tree.
Many many years later Stingy Jack died. He did end up at the gates of Heaven, but Jack got told by Saint Peter that Jack was a cruel, sorrowful, and dirty person that lived such a miserable life full of nothing. Stingy Jack could not enter Heaven at this point. That’s when Jack had been sent to Hell...but remember how the Devil had kept his promise? Well, the Devil would not allow Jack to enter Hell. This left Jack afraid and lost. He did not have anywhere to go since he could not enter Heaven nor Hell. Jack had thought he was going to have to wander around forever in the dark pit between Heaven and Hell. So since he could not enter Hell, Jack had to ask the Devil how to leave, since it was complete darkness. The Devil gave him an ember that would light the way. Jack found out that he had a turnip on him. A turnip was his favorite food, so he always carried one along with him everywhere he went. Jack had then gotten the turnip and hollowed it out, like a pumpkin, and placed the ember inside of the turnip. That day that he had done that with the turnip and ember, he kept doing that every day on forward. Jack went on traveling the Earth with no destination lighting his pathway with his “Jack O’ Lantern.”
So on all Hallow’s eve, the Irish had hollowed out turnips, gourds, potatoes, beets, and rutabagas. After hollowing them out, they would place a light in them to ward off all evil spirits...including Stingy Jack. For them those were their original Jack O’ Lanterns. When the 1800’s came up, some immigrants came to America. They then discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve stuff and images out. That is when they found out they could use pumpkins as Jack O’ Lanterns.