Two days left until my favorite holiday. My neighbors have covered their bushes in fake spider webs. The fake headless horseman next door howls every fifteen minutes. Jack-o-lanterns with candles flicker up and down the street. But what do jack-o-lanterns have anything to do with this spooky holiday?
Jack-o-lanterns have been a Halloween tradition for centuries. And it all starts with the legend of a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the tale, Jack invited the Devil to drink with him but did not want to pay for his drink. After convincing the Devil to turn into a coin to pay for their drinks, Jack decided to keep the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross that prevented the Devil from turning back into his original form. He would only free the Devil if he promised to leave him alone for a year and not to claim his soul if he died.
Years later, Jack tricked the Devil again, bargaining ten more years that the Devil must leave him alone. But soon after Jack died and God would not allow such a person into heaven. The Devil was mad at Jack for the tricks he played and kept his word to not allow Jack into hell. Jack was sent off with only a burning coal to light his way in the night. He placed this coal into a hollow turnip and roams the Earth for eternity, becoming Jack of the Lantern.
People first made their own versions of Jack’s lantern in Ireland and Scotland, carving scary faces in turnips or pumpkins and putting them in their window to frighten away Stingy Jack and other harmful spirits. I am putting two jack-o-lanterns outside my door this year. Stingy Jack stay away…