Halloween has many unusual and somewhat creepy traditions. We dress up, ask for candy and scare each other, however, one of the most iconic traditional practices of this holiday is carving a pumpkin. Better known as a “Jack-o’-lantern”, pumpkin carving has become one of the most recognizable customs of the Halloween season.
Every year my family and I would go on a hunt to find the most massive and plump pumpkin, I took this tradition very seriously as a child. I loved spooning out all of the seeds and watching my dad create the most elaborate, and sometimes frightening, faces on our “Jack-o’-lanterns”. When Halloween night came, we set our pumpkin next to the front door with a candle illuminating its ghoulish face. With the holiday around the corner, I recently became curious on how about this widely popular Halloween tradition originated.
Pumpkin carving traces back to the legend of Stingy Jack. According to an old Irish folktale, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to a drink. Refusing to pay, Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to purchase their drinks. Rather than paying for drinks, Jack decided to keep the coin for himself. Jack eventually freed the Devil. As his punishment, the Devil gave Stingy Jack a burning coal ember place in a hollowed-out turnip. With this being his only light, he was forced to roam the Earth for all eternity.
Irish children began to make their own versions of a “Jack-O’-Lantern” by carving devilish faces into vegetables to frighten away Stingy Jack. European immigrants brought this custom to the United States, and the old folktale soon turned into the widely popular Halloween tradition.