During these difficult and surreal times, I just wanted to give a shout-out to the Halloween community. We all want to be here this Halloween 2020 because it’s going to be quite the spooktacular celebration and we don’t have time for Coronavirus! So, let’s do our part and help flatten the curve against Covid-19. I realize I can’t be the only one suffering from a little anxiety and stress, so, I thought I’d repost my Advice from a Jack-o’-lantern. I hope it helps a little.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home, my friends.
People have been carving vegetables into lanterns since the dawn of time. The Maori people used gourds for lights, over 700 years ago. It’s believed the making of jack-o’-lanterns began in Ireland in 1600s, when they used turnips and gourds to hollow out to use for lantern during Halloween in Ireland and Scotland, sometimes carving out grotesque faces to frighten people.
The lanterns represented spirits and were used to ward off evil or lost spirits. Sometimes people put them on the windowsills to keep harmful spirits away from the home. Once Christianity took firm hold in the region and Halloween combined with the Christian observances of All Saints’ Day on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2, jack-o’-lanterns were lit in remembrance of Christian souls in purgatory.
The term Jack-o’-Lantern began showing up in print in the early 1800s, when Irish newspapers began printing stories telling of carved gourd lanterns and information on local gourd carving competitions. But it wasn’t until 1866, that the first recorded association between a carved pumpkin and Halloween would show up in an edition of The Daily News in Kingston, Ontario.
Today’s jack-o’-lanterns have evolved into works of art. No longer content with simple faces, pumpkin carving has become big business with the sale of tools and artistic guides to help amateurs and home haunters create their own elaborately designed pumpkins, to televised competitions and special appearances by professional carvers, who enjoy D-List celebrity status.
Jack-o’-Lanterns were once associated with the term ‘will-o’-the-wisp’ or ‘ignis fatuus’, the Medieval Latin for “fool’s fire”. A will-o’-the-wisp was thought to be a ghostly light or orb seen by travelers during the night, particularly near bogs, swamps, or marshes. The phenomenon was said be supernatural, brought on by ghosts, fairies, or other elemental spirits.
A tale behind the term refers to a wicked blacksmith who was turned away at the pearly gates by St. Peter. He was given a second chance to redeem himself but the blacksmith failed to change his evil ways and was then cursed to wander the earth for eternity. The Devil was impressed by the blacksmith’s antics and decided to give him a single burning coal to keep him warm, which he used to lure foolish travelers into the marshes instead.
The Story of Stingy Jack
In addition to the will-o’-the-wisp myth, no folklore associated with jack-o’-lanterns are quite as memorable as the story of Stingy Jack, a devilish man, so evil, the real Satan paid him a visit to see what all the hoopla was about. The witty Jack was a shrewd deceiver, a master manipulator and a nasty drunkard, who managed to trick Satan, not once but twice. The first time, he convinced the devil to go drinking with him. Afterward, being too stingy to pay, Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin so he can pay the bill. Once the Devil did so, Jack put the coin in his pocket along with a silver cross, trapping Satan until he agreed to spare Jack’s soul for ten years. The Devil agree and off Jack went.
by surrounding the devil with crosses to trap him until he agreed to spare Jack’s soul. Once Jack finally died from drink, he was refused entrance into heaven for his lifetime of sin and denied entrance into hell per his previous agreement with Satan. Satan cast the doomed soul out to wander the world for eternity, with only a single ember, which Jack inserted into a hollowed turnip to light his way. He became known as Jack of the Lantern, and eventually, Jack-o’-Lantern.
Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins…you may have noticed pumpkins and Halloween merchandise slowly filling up the aisles of our favorite stores. Soon, my friends, soon!
While Fall doesn’t officially start until September 23, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the plentiful, wondrous bounty of autumn today. The folks over at Acorns & Custard feel us, and I found a delicious Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Hand Pie recipe, to go along with our pumpkin spice lattes. Bring on the gourds!
Every Wednesday in December, Halloween Haiku will present the fabulous art of the very best artists from around the world, some well-known, some unknown, but all of them are amazingly talented.
For our last Wicked Art Wednesday of the holidays, we celebrate the extraordinary art of John Pelico, author, illustrator, and creator of KillerPumpkins. With a signature style that is known throughout the industry, John Pelico’s colorful and creative world of KillerPumpkins showcases his love for Halloween and all things cute and spooky.