The Tale of “Jack of the Lantern”

Ever wonder why it is that we crave creepy and scary faces into pumpkins for Halloween? Look no further!! I have the answer for you right here dear students and friends. Now sit around while I tell you the “Legend of Stingy Jack.” According to this Irish myth there was a man nicknamed Stingy Jack who once had a drink with the Devil. He ends up “convincing” the Devil to pay for the drinks by turning himself into money. Once the Devil did so, Jack  decided to kept the money and held it by a silver cross to stop the Devil from returning to is original form. Jack stated that he would release the Devil only if he promised not to bother Jack for one year and that if he should die, he would not claim his soul. Naturally, the Devil was released. The following year, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing a tree to pick fruit. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the bark forcing the Devil to promise not to bother Jack for another 10 years. Jack died soon after and was turned away both the Devil and by God. But the Devil gave Jack a piece of burning coal to light his way through the darkness. Jack placed the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to him as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then “Jack O’Lantern.” As the story grew people carved Jack O’Lanterns and placed them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other evil spirits. Carving pumpkins only began once the tradition took place here in America since it was easier to carve.

Once Upon a Halloween…

I realize that I’m a WHOLE two days late but the season is still in the air and I know that EVERYONE wants to know everything possible about their favorite spooky holiday. Every Halloween comes and goes faster than the last and with every year the holiday becomes more and more popular across American college students. Whether its the costumes or the parties, students fallen in love. But how, fellow students, did this holiday come to be.

Apparently the very thought of Halloween is over 2,000 years old. It goes back to the Celts when they used to celebrate the new year on November 1st. It marked the last day of summer and what they called the first day of darkness. The Celts believed that the night before the new year the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to cause trouble and damage crops. This became known as the Festival of Samhain. The Celts also believed that during this time the presence of otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids or Celtic Priests to make predictions about the future. The Druids would build sacred bonfires and the Celts wore costumes.
After the Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory, many of the Roman traditions began to meld with the Celtic ones. The Romans had two festivals at the end of October. One to commemorate the passing of the dead, the other to honor the Roman goddess, Pomona, of fruit and trees. Her symbol is the apple. And so bobbing for apples was born.

By 609 AD Pope Boniface IV dedicated May 13 as all Christian Martyrs Day. It wasn’t until Pope Gregory III that this day became known as All Saints Day and was moved to being celebrated on November 1st. By 1000 AD November 2nd was declared All Souls Day and was celebrated in much the same way as the Celtic Festival of Samhain. All Saints Day was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas and the night before, the traditional Celtic Festival of Samhain became known as All-hallows Eve.

When Halloween first started in the colonies, it wasn’t very popular outside of Maryland. Their celebrations included “play parties,” public events, sharing stories of the dead, telling each other’s fortunes, and dancing and singing. What we call Halloween now didn’t come into existence until the holiday hit America and spread like wide-fire with the immigrants of the mid 19th century. By the 20’s and 30’s Halloween became the secular holiday we all now know and love. Trick or Treating slowly became more and popular between the 20’s and 50’s. Not only did families use this as a way to build relationships within their community but they also used it as a way to avoid having tricks played on them. It would soon be known as the American tradition added to the old Celtic Festival of Samhain.