Skip to main content

Origin of The Jack-O-Lantern

Have you ever wondered why people tend to display carved pumpkins during the Halloween season? If you really take a step back to think about the tradition, it seems a little random and perhaps odd to carve out a gourd for the sake of decoration. Like many traditions and legends, It's steeped in folklore and the supernatural. The origin of the Jack-O-Lantern comes from an Irish Folktale about "Stingy Jack," aka Jack of the Lantern (hence the name, Jack-O-Lantern).


As the story goes, there was a man named Jack in Ireland who happened to be a drunkard and a trickster. One night (some say Hallow's Eve), he happened to meet the Devil at a pub. Jack and the Devil had some drinks. When it was time for last call, "Stingy Jack" lived up to his name by not wanting to pay for his alcohol. Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a sixpence to pay for the exchange for Jack's soul, that was. When the Devil did so, Jack put the sixpence in his pocket along with his crucifix. At that point, the crucifix rendered the devil unable to morph back.  Jack offered to let the Devil go, but only if the Devil agreed not to claim his soul for ten years. After ten years, Jack ran into the Devil again. This time, he asked for an apple before his Journey into Hell. The Devil obliged, climbing into the apple tree nearby. To the Devil's surprise, Jack had laid crucifixes around the tree trunk, trapping him once more. Jack demanded his soul back in exchange for the devil's freedom. Frustrated, the Devil agreed. Jack lived a hard life, and he died soon after to no one's surprise. Upon Jack's arrival to heaven's gates, St. Peter refused him. He was turned back because of his stinginess and deceitfulness in life. Jack had no choice but to trek to the gates of hell. When he arrived, the devil refused him too. Jack, not knowing where else to go, desperately asked the devil for an ember to find his way through the darkness. The devil willingly gave Jack an ember, which he placed in a hollowed-out turnip. It is said that Jack still wanders with his turnip lantern, trying to find his way through the dark.

When Irish immigrants came over to America, they brought the tradition with them. Instead of using turnips, which were plentiful in Ireland, pumpkins became the designated lanterns. So, readers, as we carve our pumpkins this year, keep in mind that we are lighting the way for Jack's journey through the afterlife.



  1. I shall light a lot of lanterns this year then. :P

    Halloween folklore is the best! Thanks for writing about it. :)

  2. That is such a cool legend! I've never heard it before!

    1. I only heard it a couple years ago myself. I thought it was pretty neat.

  3. Well this is new! I've never heard this legend before. It's really interesting! I love folklore like this and now I have a story to tell my friends around Halloween :)

    1. Awesome! I love telling stories, especially around the campfire.

  4. Aha that's interesting!

    Much love: If you fancy a follow or a nosey. xx


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

DIY Nose Chain

For those of you who've been trying to hunt down a nose chain, you probably know that they're difficult to find. Even online, there isn't a big selection. The ones I've found at a local Indian mall were pretty, but they weren't exactly what I was looking for. I finally decided it would be easier to make my own. 

What you need: Any kind of necklace chain (preferably lightweight)Nose ring (you can also make a lip chain if you have a lip ring.)Earring HookMetal loops (You might be able to find a couple on your necklace)Jewelry pliers (I used regular pliers, but it's a lot more difficult.)How To Make It: Measure out the length you want your nose chain. Using the  pliers, separate the chain to your desired length.Take the piece you need, and attach both ends to  the bigger metal loops.Attach one end to your earring hook and the other end to your nose ring. Make sure the ends are tightened enough where the nose chain won't come apa…

My Mom Wanted me to Update my Blog

Well, I didn't plan to stop blogging. It just happened that I haven't posted in six months. A lot has happened in that time, and I owe it to my biggest fan, my mom, to post an update. Here it is, Mom!
I ended up going to a few more Goth club nights before I left Atlanta. I went with one to my best friend, who is pictured below:
Then I moved to rural Northern West Virginia where I can walk to water falls and hike up mountains. I live only 3 hours from Washington, D.C., so I've been there a few times as well. 

When Halloween came around, Ryan flew up to visit. We dressed as Titania and Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream and drove to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for a Halloween Ball. The old asylum is huge and has beautiful Gothic architecture. We brought our own beer and walked around, ogling at the elaborately dressed costumers.

I even saw Robert Smith! He seemed very pleased that I recognized him.

Then, before we knew it, Christmas arrived. My roommates and I…

My First Time at a Goth Club

When I walked into the building for Ascension, a Goth/Industrial night, they started playing "This Corrosion." I was introduced to Goth six years ago when I listened to the song, so it was like the night saying "Merry Gothmas, Katie!" I'd been planning on going all week, but when Friday rolled around, I was so exhausted from spending the entire day getting a new car (my last one was totaled) and then visiting family with a long drive back. I came home and wanted to just take a nap, and after taking too long to decide, I got dressed and headed out the door. This past Ascension was the last one held at the Masquerade, a much-loved local venue, and I wanted to experience it before I left for West Virginia.

I'd known about Ascension for a while. One reason why I hadn't gone before this past Friday is because of being a student and having lived an hour away. It's a lame excuse. Aside from that, I told myself for years that I wasn't a cluby-type (alth…