Where do Jack-o-lanterns come from?

Today, my sister and I went to Walmart and bought two of the biggest pumpkins we could find. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and it always has been. I told her to wait until I got done with my homework to start carving the pumpkins. Well, I decided to find out why we carve pumpkins around Halloween, and write a blog post on what I found.

The Jack-o-lantern is a tradition that comes from Ireland. There was this guy named Jack, and he asked the devil to have a drink with him. The devil thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. But when the bill came, Jack thought the devil was going to pay, and the devil thought Jack was going to pay. Jack didn’t have any money, so he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin to take care of the bill. The devil did, but Jack skipped on the bill and put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross.

The devil was trapped in Jack’s pocket by the cross, but Jack decided to let the devil go, as long as the devil didn’t come after him for ten years. So the devil went on his way. After ten years, the devil came back to talk to Jack. Jack convinced the devil to climb a tree to get him an apple before they both went off to hell. The devil did as Jack asked, and Jack carved a cross in the trunk of the tree, trapping the devil there.

I guess Jack felt bad, because he told the devil he would let him down, as long as he never made him go to hell. The devil didn’t have much of a choice, so he agreed. When Jack died, they wouldn’t let him into heaven, and he couldn’t go to hell because of his deal with the devil. The devil gave Jack a piece of burning coal to light his way through purgatory. Jack carried the coal inside a hollowed out turnip.

Irish families put carved turnips on the windowsills to prevent Jack and ghosts from entering their home. They usually had scary faces to frighten them away. When the Irish immigrated to America, they realized that pumpkins are ideal fruit for carving. So there you have it.

Like all folktales, I’m sure the story differs depending on who tells it or where you get your information.


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