Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Light

All right day one of my Halloween series.  I know I said seven days before but I've decided to condense it down to five.  Again life just won't provide me more time.  Plus the specific nature of what I want to write about just doesn't allow for stretching out over a week.  I wanted to talk about a few things that I connect for the most part to Halloween.  I'm not going to write about ghosts or vampires or werewolves, those are pretty much year round.  I picked five things that I thought it might be cool to explore.  Tonight's topic is Jack O' Lanterns.

Honestly I've never really thought about why we carve pumpkins for Halloween.  It's one of those things you just grow up with and assume it will be like that forever.  So far, so good anyway.  But doing some light research has come up with some interesting stuff.

The original legend of the Jack O' Lantern comes from an Irish legend.  I won't go into major detail, and there are many variations, but basically Stingy Jack decided that he was smarter than the devil and managed to trick him.  The deal they struck was that the devil would never take Jack's soul.  Turns out the catch is that Jack's soul was doomed to walk the earth forever in darkness.  The devil through him a bone, or in this case an ember that would never die and would help light Jack's way through the darkness.  Jack's favorite vegetable was turnips and he had one in his possession at the time.  Jack carved out a hollow in the turnip and placed the ember in there creating a makeshift lantern. 

Those from Ireland, Scotland, and England would also carve turnips, potatoes, rutabagas, and beets and make them into lanterns to ward off evil spirits.  The images carved into them would sometimes represent certain ghosts and spirits.  They'd place these lanterns in their windows or on their doorsteps to keep those spirits out of the home.  Pumpkins being used as jack o' lanterns has American origins, started by some of the first Irish immigrants who came to the New World.

No matter how you look at it or what you decide to carve into your own Halloween pumpkin it's a fun tradition that brings back great childhood memories.  It just isn't Halloween without a jack o' lantern sitting at your doorstep glowing brightly in the night.

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