The witches and ghosts are upon us and it will soon be time to carve the pumpkins. Ever wonder why we call them Jack-O-Lanterns?
A lighting of vegetables comes from the British Isles. The actually used turnips, (that must have been hard to carve), which they would use for the Gaelic festival of Samhain. They would carve these turnips and put a candle inside.
The lit turnip was used to light your way on Samhain, to represent spirits and to protect your home from evil. But why the name Jack you might ask.
As legend has it, there lived in Ireland a stingy, thieving farmer named Jack. He was being chased by the villagers for something he had stolen when he came upon the devil. The devil told him it was time to die but Jack came up with a plan where the devil turned himself into a coin and Jack would pay the villagers for what he had stolen. When the coin disappeared the Christian villagers would fight amongst themselves allowing for more souls for the devil to take. Great plan and the devil agreed
Turning himself into a gold coin and hopping into Jack's wallet the devil found himself trapped as Jack wrapped his wallet with the sign of the cross.
Jack agreed to let the devil go on one condition. He would never take Jack's soul. The devil agreed.
One day the inevitable came and Jack died. Being such a bad person he was not welcome in heaven and having made the pact with the devil he was not welcome in hell either. Jack complained to the devil about wondering in the darkness so the devil tossed him an ember from hell that would never burn out.
Jack carved himself out a turnip ( his favourite vegetable) and placed the ember inside. He roamed the earth with his turnip lit like a lantern and became know as "Jack-O-Lantern."
Through out history the Jack-O-Lantern became a symbol to ward off evil. In Europe they were put on porches and in windows to ward off vampires. It was said when a vampire saw the glowing turnip they would not bother the person living in the house.
When people came to America from the British Isles they brought the tradition with them only instead of the turnip they used pumpkins which were plentiful and I am sure much easier to carve.
So when you are carving your pumpkins this year, think about how they are not just a jolly orange smiling or spooky face but they are protecting your home from the spirits of All Hallows Eve.
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