The Scarecast Files #3: The Legend of Stingy Jack (Origin of The Jack O' Lantern)

Season 8
10m | Oct 31, 2023

Halloween, originally derived from the Celtic Samhain celebration, marked the night when the dead returned to Earth. This holiday delighted those who enjoyed embracing the spooky side of life, yet caused unease for families wishing to avoid attracting spirits to their homes. People used scary masks and carved faces into turnips and other root vegetables to ward off these spirits. And now, people carve these scary faces into pumpkins, which we refer to as Jack O' Lanterns. But where did this all originate from?

The story of Stingy Jack, a miserable, manipulative blacksmith in 18th-century Ireland, is what started it all. Jack would even trick the Devil, who was highly interested in acquiring Jack's demented soul. At the time of death, Jack was denied entry to both Heaven and Hell, and would be left to roam the Earth with an ember from Hell in a turnip lantern, becoming known as "Jack o' the Lantern."

Irish immigrants in the United States introduced the pumpkin for carving jack-o'-lanterns, now a Halloween tradition, to keep spirits like Stingy Jack away.


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