Friday, September 25, 2015

Supernatural Friday: Jack-O-Lantern-Truth and Folklore

Next Friday, there will be no Supernatural Friday, as I will be on a book tour for my new release, Paranormal Petersburg and the Tri-Cities Area, and stop on my log on Tuesday, September 28th, so come back then and leave a comment with your and email to be entered to win a signed copy of my book.  Next Friday, I will be stopping on Lela Markham's Blog

We carve jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins around Halloween. People carve monstrous faces the pumpkins wear friendly faces, or famous characters from movies, TV and books--like the stormtrooper one my husband carved in one of the craft pumpkin we bought a few years ago. And yes, you don't have to use the gourds you find at the supermarket or grown at pumpkin farms, you can use craft pumpkins found at craft stores, too. You can also paint pumpkins even. This is safer for children to do, rather than using carving implements. They can use their own paints to paint cool faces or by using stencils, faces or scenes on the flesh of the pumpkin.

This tradition of making a jack-o-lantern goes back long ago in Ireland. They used turnips then. The Irish carved these vegetables and left them on doorsteps to ward off evil spirits. But it did not become part of Halloween until 1866. That was in America, and not in Ireland or Britain. There is no documented proof to substantiate that the jack-o-lanterns were ever part of Halloween before this date.
There is folklore behind the jack-o-lantern. In one version of the story, Stingy Jack was a miserly old man who runs into the Devil. He asks if the Devil would turn into a coin he could use to pay some Christian villagers he owed. These that would be a great joke.

But Jack pocketed him. He had a cross in the pocket, too. The Devil was stuck, and the only way he would be freed was if he promise not to take Jack's soul when he dies. The Devil agreed to the deal and set free.

Jack finally passes away. His spirit tries to enter into Heaven, but the gates remain shut to him. There is too great of a stain on his soul for Heaven to allow him inside. And thanks to his agreement with the Devil, he discovers that he is barred from Hell, too. The Devil tosses him a turnip and an ember made from Hellfire.

“Take that turnip, dig all its insides out, and place the ember inside it. Use it as a lantern to find your way across the mortal world to find a resting place. That is all I will do for you. Good riddance.”

So with only the lantern to light his way, Jack wanders the earth and searches for a resting place. He never finds it. Jack became known as Jack-o'-Lantern.
There are other versions of this Irish tale, even an African-American one. One of those tales uses the Grim Reaper in place of the Devil, The Grim Reaper takes Jack's head to Hell with him. Jack uses a pumpkin to replace his head.

When you carve that pumpkin, and set a lighted candle or battery operated candle inside it, stand on your porch and watch the costumed children wandering the street. Think of Stingy Jack, doomed to roam the earth forever.

Will you take pity on him if he comes to your door?


Faith said...

I've always thought that those turnips would have to be pretty good size to hollow them out.

Pamela K. Kinney said...

I agree, though maybe they used an ember? In Ireland, I think they use pet for their fires.