Will you be carving a pumpkin this year? Carving Jack-o-lanterns is a tradition that came from the Celts -- only they used turnips instead of pumpkins. When the Irish came to America, they found pumpkins to be a lot more plentiful making the pumpkin the official Jack-o-lantern.
The legend of the Jack-o-lantern starts with a man named Stingy Jack, he was a notorious drunk and practical joker. Jack was said to have tricked the devil into climbing into a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross into the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil in the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that said he would let the devil down if he did not bother Jack for 10 years, and should Jack die, the devil would not claim his soul.
Legend says shortly after Jack died, he was denied entrance into the gates of Heaven because of his evil ways. Jack was also denied entrance into hell because of his deal with the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the cold, dark winter. Jack placed the light into a hollowed-out turnip to keep it lit longer. In the end, it was the Devil who had the last laugh. Jack was doomed to roam the earth for all eternity. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
The tradition of carving scary faces into pumpkins stemmed from those not wanting to be visited by Stingy Jack and other ghosts. They hoped that the ghastly carved faces would frighten ghosts away. So, this Halloween don’t forget to light up your Jack O’ Lantern and place it near your door or window. If you don't, you’ll be getting a late night visit from your trusty pal Stingy Jack!
I'd love to see your pumpkin carvings, please comment and let me know where to view your pumpkins...
I Love Halloween!
Note: All the images in this blog post are creations from Master Pumpkin Carver Ray Villafane. I think his work is amazing and I appreciate the skill needed to achieve these three-dimensional carvings.