History of Jack O' Lanterns
What's orange, made into pie during the holidays, and used to ward off and confuse evil spirits? Jack O' Lanterns, of course! Usually only noticed by those who use the fifteen hours of darkness to smash them on Halloween night, Jack O' Lanterns have a surprising history. But, before I can tell you the history of Jack O' Lanterns, I have to tell you the history of Halloween.
Originally originating from the tribes of Celtic farmers who believed that one night out of the year, the barrier of season of life and the season of death was so thin that malevolent spirits could rise from their graves and walk amongst the living. This night was called Celtic Sowan, the Celtic word for summer's end. On this night, when so many undead walked the earth, the priests would try and foretell whether or not the town would survive during the winter. On this one night a year, the town would disguise themselves in horrific disguises to confuse and hide from the evil spirits. In the 8th century, in an attempt to change the Pagan ways of the Celts, the Pope created the day All Hallows Day to celebrate all the saints through time on November 1st. Europeans accepted this holiday but still wanted to keep their old traditions, thus creating All Hallows Eve- now known as Halloween. Until the early 1900's, when a potato famine occurred and thousands of Irishman were forced to move to America, no one had even heard of All Hallows Eve. When the Irishman came, they brought their traditions with them as well- only when they hit America, they started to adapt to the American way. Instead of holding bonfires meant to ward off evil, they shrank to lanterns made from gourd, the first of the Jack O' Lanterns.
Now, there are many different versions of the legend of the Jack O' Lanterns. The main one is of an old drunk named Stingy Jack who was very evil and cruel. He tricked many people including the town, his own wife, and even the Devil. As the story goes, Stingy Jack tricked the devil into climbing up an apple tree. Then he carved a cross in the tree as well as placing crosses all around the tree, trapping the Devil. Stingy Jack told the Devil that the only way he could get down is if he promised not to take his soul when he died. Finally, the Devil promised and Jack let him go.
Finally, the time came and Jack died. As he arrived at the pearly gates of Heaven, Saint Peter told him he was too cruel and evil to enter Heaven and sent him off to Hell. Well, when Stingy Jack arrived at Hell's fiery gates, the Devil kept his promise of not taking his soul and wouldn't let him into Hell either. Well, there was nowhere for Jack to go and there was no light either. So, the Devil threw him an ember and put it in a hollowed-out radish he carried around all the time (because Jack liked radishes). So forever more, Jack had to roam the world with a Jack O' Lantern.
Later on in time, many people used pumpkin instead of radishes due to the fact they were easier to hollow out and a lot bigger. This became and instant phenomenon. Then, hundreds of years later, people unknowingly carve Jack O' Lanterns believing it is just a harmless tradition, never fully knowing the entire story. So, now that you know, have fun making your seasonal Jack O' Lanterns!
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