October 31st: Halloween is Wednesday. People celebrate Halloween in many different ways; whether it is dressing up in unique costumes, telling spooky ghost stories, throwing crazy Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, and of course carving pumpkins. I always carve pumpkins with my family just before Halloween, it is a holiday tradition that we have done ever since I can remember. I got a bit curious as to what the significance of a jack-o-lantern really was, so I did a little research:
Halloween was originally a Celtic tradition, ‘Samhain’ (pronounced ‘sow-wan’), which celebrated the end of their summer season; starting the night of October 31st and lasting through the morning of November 1st. ‘Samhain’ was a celebration honoring loved ones who had passed away. It was believed that the barrier between our world and their new world was thinnest on that night. The jack-o-lantern was carved and lit for two reasons:
1) Jack-o-lanterns were carved to invite the spirits of loved ones home.
2) Jack-o-lanterns were also carved to defend the house from evil spirits who might try to escape their world during that night.
These carved pumpkins were originally lit with a piece of burning coal and set on your porch. Today we light them with candles. I always like to be more creative with my pumpkin, instead of doing a traditional face, I will carve in something a little different. In years past, I carved Frankenstein’s face, a silhouette of a cat, and this year I carved a skeleton skull into a white pumpkin. I had so much fun carving pumpkins this year that I decided to carve another one:
It is said that the a face is traditionally carved into a Jack-o-lantern because it represents ‘Stingy Jack’. It is said that Stingy Jack was a man who had made a deal with the Devil that if he was in service to him that he wouldn’t be condemned to hell. When Jack died he was barred from Heaven and turned to the Devil who granted his wish of avoiding death but cursed him to walk the earth with immortality and the fire of hell to guide his way…which is why the carved pumpkin is called a ‘Jack-o-lantern’.