Every October American families pick pumpkins as part of a Halloween tradition. Days before ol Hallow’s eve, we carve the pumpkins, creating spooky lanterns that line our entryways. So, where did this tradition come from? There are quite a few explanations for the jack-o’-lanterns; which one do you believe?
Stingy Jack Folklore
Stingy Jack was a devious Irishman who tricked the devil. According to the story, the devil, once trapped, agreed he would never take Sting Jack’s soul. When Jack died, he was safe from hell but unwanted in heaven. He wandered the earth for eternity with a turnip he carved into a lantern. His wandering spirit became known as Jack of the Lantern. Over time, his name shortened to Jack-o’-Lantern.
Gourds as Lanterns
People carved lanterns into gourds for over 700 years. In Ireland people used turnips to make lanterns, carving spooky faces into the hallowed gourds. Halloween began as the time when souls of the dead roamed the earth. Scary lanterns helped ward off evil spirits.
Front Porch Welcome
As mentioned above, superstitious people used Jack-o’-lanterns to protect them from the undead. The light of the lantern identified vampires, preventing them from hunting humans. However, the gleaming faces also symbolized a welcoming light for lost loved ones.
Will you decorate your porch this year with a spooky Jack-o’-lantern? Perhaps a goofy carved face. Regardless of where the tradition stems from (no pun intended), carved pumpkins make for fun Halloween decorations. They welcome trick-or-treaters and enhance your seasonal curb appeal!