The spirit of Halloween is in the air and there's nothing like the smell of fresh pumpkin guts to put you in the spooky mood. Is there really anything greater than hitting up your local pumpkin patch with the fam, picking out the biggest, roundest, most orange pumpkin there is, and violently stabbing it with a knife to carve your best scary face into it?
From The Great Pumpkin to The Headless Horseman, there are some classics stories centered around pumpkins. But as you dig into your precious pumpkin and brutally gut its insides, do you ever question where the origin of the Jack O'Lantern came from — or why they sit at the doorsteps across neighborhoods on Halloween? It goes further back than you think.
While there are many renditions of this tale, early Irish folklore tells the story of the Jack O'Lantern as protection against tricksters like the spirit of Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack, a drunkard, and a prankster, loved to play tricks on people. He pranked his family, friends, neighbors, and even went as far as to prank the Devil — because apparently the Devil just hangs out in folk tales.
One day, Stingy Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. He immediately surrounded the tree with crosses, preventing the Devil from climbing back down. Cornering a now pissed off Devil, Stingy Jack proposed a deal. Stingy Jack would let the Devil down from the tree, if and only if, the Devil promised to never let his soul into the gates of Hell. The Devil promises and is let down from the tree.
[Related: We made Death Wish Coffee pumpkin carving stencils]
Fast forward to years later when Stingy Jack kicks the bucket, he is then denied access into the gates of Heaven (for obvious reasons), but when he arrives at the gates of Hell, the Devil exclaimed, "I always keep my promises." However, he is kind enough to give Stingy Jack an ember of Hell to help him find his way through the total darkness. Stingy Jack stuck this ember into a carved turnip (because who doesn't carry around a turnip with them) as a source of light.
When the Irish began immigrating to America, they began using pumpkins instead of turnips to carve Jack O'Lanterns. As Halloween draws close and the veil between our world and the spirit realm thins, light a Jack O'Lanterns in front of your home to ward off Stingy Jack's spirit from playing any of his tricks on you.