8955Jack o lanterns
- Oct 25 6:45 AMJack- O- Lanterns
Carved pumpkins with candles inside, based on the Irish legend of Jack, decorate windows and porches. He was a mean farmer who drank too much.
One Hallowe’en night, he got so drunk that he felt his soul slide outside his body. The devil appeared to claim it. Jack begged the devil to have a last drink with him. The devil said Jack would have to pay for the drinks. Jack had six pence and suggested that the devil, who could take on any shape, turn into another sixpence to pay for them. The devil agreed. Jack put the coin in his wallet which had a cross- shaped clasp. The devil couldn’t get out. Jack said if the devil would leave him alone for another year, he would release him. The devil agreed.
Jack, at first, tried to change his ways, but soon lapsed back into his bad habits.
The next Hallowe’en, Jack thought he was safe from the devil until he was returning home from the pub. The devil appeared to him to collect his soul. Jack tricked him again. He pointed to apples in a tree and asked the devil if he’d like one. The devil agreed. Jack said he could climb on his shoulder to pick one. As soon as the devil climbed onto a branch, Jack carved a cross into the tree.
The devil screamed to be set free. He said if Jack would let him climb down the tree, he wouldn’t bother him for 10 years. Jack said he would do this only if the devil never bothered him again. The devil agreed.
Before the next Hallowe’en, Jack’s body succumbed to the abuse he subjected it to. He tried to enter the gates to Heaven, but wasn’t allowed. He went to the gates of Hell. The devil denied entrance reminding him of his promise never to bother Jack again. He threw Jack a lit piece of coal so he could see his way in the darkness. Jack placed it in a mangelwurzel, a beet or a turnip (sources differ as to which vegetable it is), to use as a lantern to guide him on his eternal earthly trek.
It became an Irish custom to carve turnips or beets and place a lit candle in them. These symbolized souls of the dead or goblins that were set free from the dead. When the Irish immigrated to America, they found pumpkins were easier to carve and used them to make Jack- O- Lanterns.
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