Urban Legend – How the Jack-O-Lantern became a Halloween Icon

This legend is rooted in Irish folklore, it stemmed off of the reputation of a man called Stingy Jack.

Stingy Jack was a nasty deviant, he was foul tempered and mean and was a known alcoholic that frequently beat his wife and children before setting off into the streets to create mischief with whoever was unfortunate enough to encounter him.

Well, One Halloween night Jack comes staggering in to the local pub. He bellies up to the bar and orders a drink, but the Bar Keep is no fool. Jack had a habit of coming in to the bar and ordering drinks knowing good and damned well that he didn’t have any money to pay for them. Tonight, the Barkeeper wasn’t biting, no free drinks for Jack.

So now, he’s pissed, He looks around the pub and sees that every man in the room has turned their backs to him, he’d already screwed them all over in one way or another, none of them there on that night were game to hook Jack up tonight.

So, Jack was about to hang it up, when all of the sudden, the door to the pub flies open, Satan himself was standing there in the threshold. The Devil had come to claim Jack’s soul and he was eager to add another wicked man to his minions.

Jack looks over at the towering beast, deep within him he knew that he was the reason for Satan’s visit. Jack, thinking quickly, invites Satan to have a drink with him. Satan, seeing no reason to refuse his offer, approaches the bar. Jack orders two pints of ale for them, then proceeds to gulp his down in one swig. Now Jack, of course has no money, so he’s laughing at the Bar Keep when he demands to be paid. Jack then turns to Satan and convinces him to turn himself into a sixpence so that he could pay for their drinks.

Satan, seeing no harm in a further delay, turns himself into a sixpence. Jack, true to his own evil nature, picks the sixpence up from the bar and puts it into his pocket next to a silver cross which would keep Satan from returning to his true form. Jack then hauls ass, lit from free drinks and richer than he was when he first arrived.

At some point Jack decides to set Satan free and releases him to return to his true form with one condition; that Satan would not return for his soul for 10 years.

Ten years later Jack is stumbling down a dark country road and who should he encounter other than Satan himself! Satan, was pissed that he’d been outsmarted and imprisoned by the town drunk, and he’s eager to claim what is rightfully his, Jack’s soul.

“I’ll go with you” Jack said. “But before I go, will you pick that apple from the tree for me” he said motioning to the top of a nearby apple tree.

Satan, gain, feeling he had nothing to lose, climbed the tree but, Jack pissed him off further by demanding to have the highest apple in the tree. Satan starts grumbling but he continued climbing up into the tree.

When Jack saw that he was on the highest branch, he ran to the tree and carved a cross into the trunk so Satan couldn’t come down. Jack, was so pleased with himself, he’d outsmarted the Devil himself twice now! At that point, he made Satan promise that he’d never again come seeking his soul. Satan, seeing no other option, begrudgingly agreed.

Well, not long after this, Jack died, but the story doesn’t end here. Seeing as that this dude was such an asshole and had knowingly made deals with the devil, God refused him entry to Heaven. Jack soon after finds himself at the gates of Hell, but he would find no solace there either. Satan had had more than enough of his bullshit, there wasn’t any way he was going to let Jack in to Hell to spend eternity with him.

Jack, standing alone in the dark cries out to Satan. “God won’t let me into heaven and you refuse to claim my soul, where am I supposed to go?” Yeah, well Satan didn’t give a rat’s ass! He hollers out, “Go back where you came from!”

Well, way back was dark and treacherous and Jack was scared. He begged Satan for a lamp so that he could find his way back. Satan, was becoming more that a little irritated, so he tossed some coals from the lake of fire at Jack’s feet. Jack carved out a turnip and placed the coals inside to light his way. From that day forward Jack has roamed the earth in the form of a shadowy man, carrying what we know today as a Jack-o-Lantern.

So if Jack carved a turnip why the hell do we use pumpkins? The carved turnips were common place because of the great potato famine. When Irish immigrants started migrating to the United States, they discovered pumpkins or other gourds that were way bigger and much easier to carve.

Homes all across the United States and other countries place Jack-o-Lanterns in the windows or on their front porches for dual purposes, whether we knew it or not. The Jack-o-Lantern is said to frighten old Stingy Jack away but on the flip side, a tasty gourd is seen as a food offering to other ill willed spirits that are free to haunt the living on All Hallows Eve. Got your pumpkin ready?

Follow me on Facebook!

This entry was posted in vampire history and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *