A Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin - Alex9500

Jack O’Lantern

A Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin - Alex9500

par Guide Irlande

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Jack O’Lantern (also known as Stingy Jack, or Jack the Smith), is a character from Irish fairy tales. The story goes that he would be condemned to wander forever between the world of the dead and the world of the living…

The Legend

A malicious being who plays the Devil

It all began centuries ago, many centuries ago. Stingy Jack, an old drunkard, is known around here for his malice and cheapness. He likes to play tricks on those around him, drink himself to death in the local pubs, and be very mean to his friends and family. His cruelty is such that the Devil even hears about it, and decides to visit him to punish him and condemn him to the Underworld. Descending to Earth, the Devil finds Stingy Jack staggering through the Irish countryside.

Jack, you’ve been cruel all your life. Follow me, I’ll condemn you to the Underworld for eternity.

Despite the booze, Jack doesn’t give a damn, and accepts: “Okay, I’ll follow you… But before you take me in, buy me a nightcap at the Pub“.

The Devil thinks about it and sees no harm in granting this request… He accepts, and takes Jack to the nearest pub. Arrived at the counter, Jack orders a beer, but doesn’t find a coin in his pocket to pay for it… The Devil decides to offer him the beer and turns himself into a sixpence coin. But instead of paying his bill, Jack grabs the coin and stuffs it in his pocket, where a small silver cross stands. Contact with the cross prevents the Devil from taking his true form, and Jack, proud of him, offers to free him if he leaves him alone for ten years. The Devil accepts, furious, and returns to Hell.

Ten years go by. The Devil decides to come back. Jack agrees to follow him, but asks if he will pick an apple before taking him away. The Devil agrees, climbs up the apple tree, but Jack then circles the tree trunk with several crosses, once again trapping the Devil.

– Set me free! Yell at the Devil!

Jack then agrees to release him on the condition that the Devil leaves him alone forever, which he does.

Many years later, Jack dies, and finds himself at the gates of Paradise. But St. Peter denies him access because of his former dissolute life. Jack then goes to the gates of Hell, and asks the Devil to let him in.

I won’t let you in… Remember the promise I made to you…

Desperate, Jack doesn’t know where to go. He then asks the Devil what to do…

Go back to where you came from…

Jack thus decides to return on his steps. But the path is dark and frightening, and Jack needs light to progress… He then asks the Devil for a little help: the Devil accepts, and offers him embers from Hell, which he puts in a turnip to act as a torch. Since that day, Jack wanders like a soul in pain between the world of the dead and the world of the living, not knowing where to go…

Jack O’Lantern these days…

Halloween Symbol

Nowadays, Jack O’Lantern is a recurring character that we find every year at the Halloween party. Halloween is indeed the modern version of the feast of the Samain, a festival of Celtic origin, where the popular belief was to think that once a year, the world of the living and the dead co-existed for one night…

To avoid meeting ghosts and other wandering souls, the population thus had food in front of their doors to calm the evil spirits, and dug into vegetables (rutabagas, turnips…etc.) to place candles, to protect themselves from evil beings.

It was not until the early 1800s that this custom spread to the United States, during the mass emigration of the Irish. The Irish continued to celebrate the Samain, and decided to use a pumpkin to place their candles, considering this vegetable more practical to use…

Since that day, these famous pumpkins are nicknamed the “Jack O’Lantern” in reference to the legend…


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