Jack-O-Lantern with Light-up Eyes

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Orange and black illustration of a jack-o-lantern on a black background

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The Jack O’Lantern is often correlated with American Halloween, however the legend and activity of carving pumpkins actually originated in Ireland. Instead of carving pumpkins as is popular in the U.S., the Irish people carved other vegetables like turnips or potatoes. 

In fact, the name “Jack O’Lantern” originates from Irish folklore. According to legend, a man named “Stingy Jack” invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack did not want to pay for his drink, and convinced the Devil to turn into a coin so that he could buy the drinks. He then forced the devil to stay in the form of a coin and put the coin in his pocket next to his cross. Stingy Jack tricked the Devil a few more times, always with the security of the cross surrounding him. However, when Stingy Jack died, God does not let him into Heaven and the Devil did not let him into Hell—leaving Stingy Jack to stay in a purgatory on Earth. The Devil gave him a piece of burning coal to serve as a light, which he put in a carved turnip to use as a lantern. Hence, the name “Jack O’Lantern” is born!


History.com. (2019, October 28). How Jack O’Lanterns originated in Irish myth. https://www.history.com/news/history-of-the-jack-o-lantern-irish-origins

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