Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Legend of Jack of the Lantern

It is a tradition here to carve a jack-o-lantern each Halloween.  It just wouldn't be Halloween without pumpkin guts everywhere.  In the early history of the British Isles turnips and rutabagas were carved into lanterns and sat on the porch to ward off evil spirits. 

Our area is rich with Irish ancestry and that is exactly where the legend of the jack-o-lantern started.  One version of the Irish folk tale tells of Jack who tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree.  Once Jack had the Devil up in the tree he carved crosses into the bark so the Devil couldn't get back down. 



Jack only agreed to let the Devil back down if he wouldn't take his soul.  The Devil agreed and went back about his business.  However, it seems that Jack was a thief and when he did finally pass, he didn't have to go to Hell, but wasn't good enough to get into Heaven.  Thus, Jack was doomed to wander and the Devil tossed him an ember that Jack placed into a carved turnip.  This allowed Jack the light to endlessly wander the earth and he then became known as, "Jack of the Lantern". 

"Oh!  fruit loved of boyhood!  - the old days recalling, 

When wood grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! 
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, 
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!"

John Greenleaf Whittier

27 comments:

  1. Love the new header! You're lucky you still have kids at home to do the pumpkins. We did that all the years the kids were growing up. We have a pumpkin by the back door but it will remain uncut, methinks. Hubby has surgery tomorrow.. that's the only jack-o-lantern we'll have!

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  2. Nice job on the carving! I hope you have a good rest of the day.

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  3. What a joy it must be to see them alight. Please have you all a good new week ahead.

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  4. Pumpkin carving is THE BOMB! LOVE!
    Have fun!

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  5. love the pumpkin faces...always liked having a real pumpkin at Halloween...then I'd bake the pumpkin, take the skin off and turn it into pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving

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  6. Fun, fun! My oldest and his girlfriend carved a couple of pumpkins here. And then of course we roasted the seeds. Love the story...I've never heard that!

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  7. Beautiful new header...
    Who doesn't love pumpkin carving....Love it!
    shug

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  8. When we use to carve, no little ones around anymore, we would save the seeds to roast. Sprinkle a little salt and you have a great snack.

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  9. Nice job on the carving, Happy Halloweens ...

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  10. I have to do this sooner or later, but this kind of pumpkins are not so easy to find here, even for Halloween...

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  11. Happy Halloween!
    Loving the new header

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  12. Thanks so much for the history on the Jack-o-lantern. Very cool to know.

    And your lanterns are very gruesome looking! Happy Halloween! :)

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  13. I was just sharing part of that story with my kiddos last night, but couldn;t remember all the details...thanks for filling them in!

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  14. Nothing like carving a pumpkin as a kid! That's how our kitchen table looked when I was young -- newspaper spread out and pumpkin guts everywhere. Hope everyone had fun. Happy Halloween!

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  15. very cool! i love learning something new about this holiday - one of my very favorites!

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  16. The new header is awesome!!
    I love this time of the year and jackolanterns ared so much fun!
    Happy Halloween!

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  17. Our favorite part of this tradition are the pumpkin seeds. Which I promptly burned.

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  18. Love those old legends. And this was a good one...

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  19. How fun. I love carving pumpkins. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

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  20. Nice pumpkins. Like your new header also.

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  21. I love that you tip your hat to our literary greats! Awesome!

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  22. Whooo the header is great! and i have to admit i never carved a pumpkin....

    I think you guys did a great job and thanks for the little info on Jack! hihi

    Leontien

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  23. First off - great header !

    Next - thanks for the history of Jack of the Lantern - who says you can't learn via blogging ;-)

    And ... nice carvings ! Brings back some great memories !

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