It’s that time of year again when summer draws to a close, August Bank Holiday is a long and distant memory and the next milestone many of us turn our thoughts to is Halloween.
Although not a public holiday it is still a time of fun and laughter with scary fancy dress, tales of the night and, of course, the age old pumpkin decorating.
So, when the manufacturer of our recycled metal garden ornaments offered us some Jack O’ Lanterns with funky hand-made designs we jumped at the chance to allow our customers to spice up their Halloween in 2016.
But have you ever stopped to wonder where the tradition of pumpkin decorating originally came from?
Where did the Jack O’ Lantern come from and why?
Believe it or not, the term actually originates from an Irish Myth about a man who was nicknamed, ‘Stingy Jack.’
As the myth goes Jack invited the Devil for a drink and, true to his stingy ways, tricked the Devil into forming the shape of a coin to pay for the drink. Being such a miser that, obviously he didn’t want to pay for the drink himself!
Apparently, the Devil duly obliged and then to add further insult to injury good old Jack then decided he wanted the coin for other purposes and so proceeded to place the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross so the Devil couldn’t change himself back!
Confused yet? So were we but it doesn’t stop there …
Anyway, eventually Jack did free the Devil but only on the condition that he didn’t bother Jack for a year and didn’t steal his soul when he died – there’s always a condition where Jack’s concerned obviously, I’m sure we all know someone like that!
And how does this relate to jack O’ Lantern we hear you ask?
Well, at this point it doesn’t to be honest.
But just under a year later Jack apparently then proceeds to trick the Devil into climbing a tree to fetch some fruit and then promptly carves a cross into this tree so the Devil can’t get down.
And yes, you guessed it he only agrees to let the devil down on the proviso that he doesn’t bother Jack for ten years or nick his soul when he dies.
Sorry this does have a connection with a lantern – honest!!
Don’t go to sleep on us just as we’re getting to the good bit, please.
Before the ten years are up, good old Stingy Jack dies only to find that God won’t let him into Heaven and, of course, the Devil won’t let him into Hell – unsurprisingly really after being turned into a coin and confined to tree.
Instead, Jack was sent into the eternal night with only a burning coal inside a carved out turnip to light his way.
Hence, Jack of the Lantern became Stingy’s new nickname and this was eventually abbreviated to Jack O’ Lantern – probably because it rolls off the tongue better and sounds a little more impressive.
And, finally, there you have it.
Halloween is apparently the time when the dead can be seen walking the earth and so it makes sense that Jack of the Lantern would be associated and remembered at this time of year as well.
Good old Stingy Jack!