Pumpkins are very common around Halloween. Something that is even more popular is the Jack o’ lantern, but many do not know where that name originated.
Jack o’ lanterns are pumpkins that have been hollowed out and carved.
Traditional Jack o’ lanterns have a candle placed in the center to showcase whatever was carved into it.
Nowadays, most people recognize jack o’ lanterns to be fancy pumpkins, but pumpkins have not always been used.
In ancient Ireland, jack o’ lanterns were made from turnips or potatoes.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Irish Potato Famine (from 1845 until 1849) brought Irish immigrants to the United States, who brought the concept of Jack o’ lanterns as well.
According to the History Channel, the practice of carving turnips and making them into Jack o’ lanterns stems from an Irish myth of a man whose nickname was “Stingy Jack.”
The legend is Stingy Jack asked the devil to go out and have a few drinks with him.
Stingy Jack did not want to pay for the devil’s drinks, so they made a deal. The devil would turn himself into a coin that Stingy Jack would use to buy the drinks.
After the devil turned himself into the coin, Stingy Jack decided he would keep the coin for himself. He placed the devil-coin in his pocket which also held a silver cross.
In doing so, the devil could not revert to his original form.
At some point, Jack freed the devil on one condition: He would not pester Jack for one year and if he died, he would not take his soul.
About a year later, Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree to take some fruit.
Once in the tree, Jack carved a cross onto it so the devil could not get down.
Again, Jack made a deal with him. This time the deal was that he had to leave him alone for 10 more years.
Not long after the second deal was made Jack, died.
Because God did not allow people like Jack into heaven, the only other option was hell. The devil kept his word about not taking Jack’s soul even after everything Jack did to him.
The devil decided to get even with Jack. He sent Jack away with only a coal to light the path in front of him.
As the legend states, Jack placed the coal into one of his hollowed- out turnips and has been roaming the earth ever since.
After that, Stingy Jack was referred to as “Jack of the lantern,” and later as “Jack o’ lantern.”