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Monday, October 31, 2011

How did the Jack-o-lantern tradition get started?

: jack o lantern

Why: Katrina carved this one. Uncanny!
Answer: To ward off the spirit of a real dick! Here's the legend of Jack of the Lantern:
Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for 1 year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised not to bother Jack for 10 more years.

Soon after, Jack died. God would not allow such an unsavory figure into Heaven. The Devil, upset by the tricks Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into Hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits.
And the English used beets, and Americans use pumpkins (because they grow here).


The More You Know: Biologically, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and all other things that grow on vines (tomatoes, wink) are classified as fruits, not vegetables. Peas are the seeds from inside the pods of the fruit of that plant.

There are 4 main types of pumpkin:
  • Cucurbita Moschata (the ones you eat)
  • Cucurbita Pepo (the ones you carve)
  • Cucurbita Maxima (the ones that get big enough to win county fair ribbons)
  • Cucurbita Mixta (the little tiny adorable ones)

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Hah that's funny because AS I was carving this, the following conversation happened:

Me: What's the origin of pumpkin carving?
Mike: No idea. You should look it up.
Me: Ok, but it sounds like something that should be/may have been on Carly's blog.


20 minutes later:

Mike: well? did you look it up?

So once again, thank you for reading my mind and enabling my laziness

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