Jack-o’-lanterns burn bright, despite dark origins

As the leaves change from their dark green to a reddish brown, everyone can tell that the autumn season is beginning. This season entails many things, such as the start of school, fall sports, and especially Halloween. Halloween is a holiday most students all over the world favor. Approximately 23% of Americans say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays. Though, what makes Halloween so special? Is it the costumes? Is it the candy? Is it scary movies or perhaps the eerie music?

A major thing many people associate Halloween with are the crazy, creepy jack o’lantern carvings. These palpable pumpkins originate all the way back to the 1660s, when life was brutish and short. Many Europeans wanted to move from their origin country to America. Amongst these immigrants there was a large group of Irish individuals. Coming all the way from the westernmost edge of Europe, Irish immigrants brought much culture with them. The Irish brought a new twist to things from dancing and all the way to the food people eat today. However, one thing they brought with them that really stood out was the tradition of carving vegetables for Halloween. 

This tradition started out with turnips, potatoes and beets. These vegetables weren’t ideal for carving, but when the pumpkin, a Native American crop, was discovered in America they knew it was perfect for carving. Not only would they carve spooky faces into the vegetable for fun and to eat the insides, but also for protection. Supposedly, pumpkin carvings would divert evil spirits from entering the home of which it was put up to protect. Not only does the pumpkin have an interesting origin story but so does the jack o’lantern. The jack o’lantern is similar to regular pumpkin carvings, however, a light is added on the inside .“Stingy Jack” is a myth about a devious man who met the devil and somehow convinced him to morph into a coin. The devious Jack put the morphed devil in his pocket next to a silver cross, not allowing the devil to morph back into his true form. Jack made the devil promise not to take his soul and the devil agreed. Soon after, Jack died, but he did not go to Heaven or even Hell. Instead, he had to roam through the night with only a piece of coal to light his way. The myth says that he started a small fire in a hollowed out turnip and continued to do so with the other carved vegetables used for Halloween.

Since most people do not know about the superstition behind pumpkin carvings and jack o’lanterns, society views it as more of a family friendly game. People like to have competitions on who carves the cutest or scariest pumpkin, decorating them with bright colors and fancy clothes. They don’t even know the myths and mysteries that lie amongst their beloved pumpkins!