Why is it Called a Jack-O-Lantern, Anyway?
Every year a lot of us buy a pumpkin then practice our carving talents for Halloween night. Have you ever wondered why we carve pumpkins and better yet why we call them Jack-O-Lanterns?
The story goes back centuries to Irish folklore and the Legend of Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack tricked the devil a few times. According to History.com:
Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
As you can imagine the devil wasn't happy with Jack and when Jack did die, well of course he wasn't welcome in Heaven because of his behavior but the devil didn't want him either. Jack was forced to walk the dark night with a lit piece of coal to light his way. Since the burning coal is too hot to carry he put it inside a carved out turnip. Yes, before pumpkins they carved turnips, potatoes and beets. People would carve the veggies and light them to keep stingy Jack and other wandering spirits away. Did you realize that pumpkins are only found in North America? It was only when the Irish came to America that they started carving pumpkins. So there you go. That my friends is the story of Stingy Jack and why we carve pumpkins in to Jack-O-Lanterns.