The Legend of Jack O’ Lantern

Halloween History From Ireland
In my book ‘Storytellin: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas’ I write about one of the first Halloween adventures I can recall as a young child with my younger brother and parents as we went about trick-or-treating American style in the 1950s. We encountered plenty of costumes and decorations, most notably the ever-present carved pumpkins called jack-o-lanterns, without consideration of the origins of the holiday art.
Did you know the carving tradition began in Ireland?
Ed Mooney, an accomplished and award-winning Irish photographer and storyteller posted a very interesting tale titled ‘The Legend of Jack O’ Lantern’ on his blog ‘Ed Mooney Photography ~ The home of Kildare based Photographer, Blogger and Self-Proclaimed Ruinhunter’.
Pumpkins are indigenous to the Americas but not to Ireland. When it came to Irish Halloween carving, turnips were all the rage according to a post-Christian Irish legend and a rather interesting fellow named Stingy Jack (no relation, I hope!)
Here’s Ed’s retelling of the old story he heard as a youngster:

Ed Mooney Photography

DIGITAL CAMERA

Every October, carved pumpkins begin to peer out from porches and doorsteps. These orange coloured fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign that the Halloween season has begun. However this was not always the case.  Irish emigrants brought their many traditions to the shores of the United States in the early 1800’s. And along with Samhain, the legend of, Jack O’ Lantern. The practice of decorating Jack O’ Lantern the name comes from an old Irish folktale concerning a man named Stingy Jack. where large turnips were carved out and a small candle was placed within. Many of you may have heard or perhaps even witnessed a strange, atmospheric or ghostly light on your travels at night? It is a common sight to see especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. Many witnesses have claimed that it resembles a flickering lamp in the distance which…

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8 thoughts on “The Legend of Jack O’ Lantern

  1. I think it’s a bit easier carving a pumpkin that a turnip, Jack. It’s hard enough to slice a turnip for cooking. I didn’t know it originated in Ireland, thanks for posting Ed’s story about it.

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