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From Pumpkins to Jack O'Lanterns

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From Pumpkins to Jack O'Lanterns
From Pumpkins to Jack O'Lanterns
© Dixie Allan

The Jack-o-lantern custom most likely comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

Originally, the Irish would use turnips or potatoes as their "Jack's Lanterns" because turnips and potatoes were plentiful. But when the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-50 prompted over 700,000 people to immigrate to the Americas, these immigrants brought with them their traditions of Halloween and Jack O'Lanterns, but turnips were not as readily available as they were back home. They found the American pumpkin to be a more than an adequate replacement. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.

Today, the carved pumpkin is perhaps the most famous icon of the Halloween season. Pumpkins are grown in white, blue and green colors which are great for unique monster carvings! Across the country you will find pumpkin carving contests where contestants create works of art on the face of the good old pumpkin!

If you would like to learn more about Halloween, visit this link.

For Halloween clip art visit this link.

For Halloween Customs visit this link.

For Halloween Symbols visit this link.

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