Halloween: What is a Jack-O’-Lantern?
Everywhere you go these days, you are sure to find jack-o’-lanterns. You may be wondering what they are. Well, they are Halloween decorations of course, but there are two stories out there that explain why.
The first one is a legend about a boy named Jack who was a friend of the Devil, but also a Christian. One day, Jack and the Devil were playing tag. Jack was “it”, so he was chasing the Devil. The Devil decided to climb up a tree, and when he did, Jack quickly carved a cross into the tree so the Devil couldn’t get down. The Devil had to stay there until one of his friends came and scratched out the cross. Needless to say, the Devil was very angry.
Many years later, Jack died. At first, he went to heaven but God said “You are not a nice person. You even play tricks on the Devil. You are not welcome in heaven.” So Jack went down to the Devil’s place.
The Devil, still angry at Jack said “You cannot stay here. You are not welcome. However, I will give you a burning piece of coal, so that you may have light for however long it burns.” Jack decided to prolong the light by putting it in a carved-out turnip. Later, as tradition has it, the pumpkin replaced the turnip because it was bigger.
The second possible reason jack-o’-lanterns are prevalent during Halloween, is that it is a celebration of ghosts and spirits coming back. Therefore, people carve out pumpkins to light the way for their ancestors’ spirits to return, and the scary pumpkin face is designed to keep away evil spirits.
I can’t say for sure which story is correct, but I can tell you that carving out pumpkins is fun, and making pumpkin pie from them is great. So if you get a chance, please try to carve one.