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History of the Jack-O’-Lantern

By Linda Tancs

The Irish legend of Stingy Jack gave birth to the jack-o’-lantern. When Jack ran into the devil at a local pub, he tricked the devil into buying him a drink by promising him his soul in exchange for a sixpence. Well, when the devil transformed into a coin, Jack held on to it instead and covered it with crosses so the devil couldn’t change back. Eventually Jack relented but, figuring he’d have to fulfill his promise, he tried to buy more time by asking the devil to pluck him an apple to eat from a nearby tree. Then he covered the tree with crosses and trapped the evil one again. When Jack died, he was denied entrance to heaven because of his deceitful ways. Likewise, the devil turned him away, tossing him an ember to roam about the night. Stingy Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way as he scoured the earth for a final resting place. The Irish called the ghost of Stingy Jack, “Jack of the Lantern”—Jack O’ Lantern.

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