By Gloria Costeri

Everybody, from kids to adults, celebrates Halloween but how many people actually know the stories behind this festivity?


For example, do you know why we carve pumpkins?

Well, let’s find it out.


People have been carving frightening faces on vegetables, and illuminated them with candles, for centuries.

This practice comes from Ireland, where people incised turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and beets, and placed a light in them to avoid evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. Then, when Irish immigrants got to America, the home of the pumpkin, they brought that tradition there, and so it became a popular activity during Halloween.


Who was Stingy Jack?

According to an irish myth, Stingy Jack was a miserable and hopeless old man who enjoyed pulling tricks on pretty much everybody: family, friends and even the Devil himself. One day he invited the Devil to have a drink with him, and since Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, he persuaded the Devil to transform himself into a coin that Jack could use to purchase their beverages. Once the Devil did so, Jack chose to keep the cash and put it into his pocket close to a silver cross, which kept the Devil from changing once again into his original shape. 

After a bit, Jack agreed to free the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for a year and that he won’t ever claim Jack’s soul after his death. 


The next year, Jack again fooled the Devil into climbing a tree to pick some fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack cut a cross into the tree’s rind so that the Devil could not come down. Then, Jack made him promise that he would not bother him for another ten years.


Soon after, Jack died, and when he got to the doors of Heaven, God blocked him because he would not allow such a toxic and disturbing figure into heaven. The Devil, also upset by Jack’s behavior and by all the tricks he had played on him, kept his promise not to claim his soul and didn’t let Jack into hell.

The Devil kicked Jack into the dark night, in the Netherworld between Heaven and Hell, with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved turnip, that he always had in his pocket, and has been roaming the earth with it ever since. 


From that day on, Irish people began to call this ghostly and spooky figure “Jack of the Lantern,” or simply, “Jack O’Lantern.”


This is the most famous version of the story but, as you may know, every myth has different versions of itself, and since it’s halloween we like to believe in everything we hear! 

credit historicmysteries.com