Skip to Content

Did You Ever Wonder Why We Carve Jack-O-Lanterns At Halloween Time?

It is just a given, Halloween time rolls around, and we go to the store to buy our seasonal pumpkin, which we will turn into a carved up Halloween masterpiece.

But, WHY do we partake in this silly ritual of pumpkin carving, and why do we call our carved pumpkins ‘Jack’?

It seems to have all started WAY back centuries ago in Ireland, and it began around a myth about a man named “Stingy Jack.”

Legend has it, Stingy Jack invited the devil, himself, to have a drink with him, but becauses he was stingy, Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink.

Okay, stick with me, this gets just a little weird.

Jack tricked the devil into turning himself into a coin that Jack said he would use to pay for the drinks.

But, because Jack was his old stingy self, Jack pocketed this devil coin, instead of paying for the drinks.

In the pocket where Jack put this devil coin, there was a silver cross. This cross prevented the devil from changing himself back into his devilish form.

Some time went by, and Jack decided to free the devil, but he had a few stipulations. He told the devil that he could not bother him for a year. He also said that, should he die, the devil could not take his soul.

A year went by, and the devil again became a victim of Jack’s devious trickery.

Jack tricked the devil into climbing up into a tree to get a piece of fruit. While the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the bark of the tree. This trapped the devil in the tree.

Jack wouldn’t let the devil down until he promised he wouldn’t bother Jack for 10 more years.

But, pretty soon, Jack died. Because he was involved in such stinginess and trickery, God wouldn’t let him into heaven.

The devil was hella (see what I did there) upset with Jack, but he was true to his word, and didn’t claim his soul. So, Jack wasn’t allowed into hell.

The devil sent Jack off into the dark night, and gave him only a burning coal to light his path.

Jack grabbed a turnip, and carved out the inside. He placed the burning coal inside the turnip, and he has been roaming the earth with this carved turnip ever since.

The Irish people began to refer to him as “Jack of the Lanter,” or as we know him, “Jack O’ Lantern.”

You might have noticed that Jack used a turnip and not a pumpkin. In Ireland, people originally used carved turnips at Halloween time.

In England, they had their own version of “Jack O’ Lantern,” and they carved big beets with faces.

These turnips or beets were placed on window sills, and they were supposed to ward off the evil spirit of Stingy Jack — or any other evil spirits that might happen by.

Eventually, immigrants brought the legend of Stingy Jack over to America, where pumpkins grew in the native soil. The people in America soon learned that pumpkins made GREAT Jack O’ Lanterns.

And, that is why we use pumpkins called Jack at Halloween.