Nugget of Knowledge: Jack-o’-lantern lore

Stingy Jack was an Irish character associated with the Jack-o'-lantern

Nugget of Knowledge

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – As far back as 1663, the term Jack-o’-lantern meant a man with a lantern or a night watchman.

Then it came to mean mysterious lights you saw at night over swamps and marshes — gas from rotting plants.

Then, in Ireland, the Jack-o’-lantern came to refer to a man again, Jack of the light.

In Irish folklore, Stingy Jack, as he was known, tricked the devil so Jack could stay out of Hell when he died.

When Jack died, he wasn’t good enough to get into Heaven either, so the devil gave Jack a piece of burning coal in a turnip for him to wander the earth with, haunting the night forever.

In America, pumpkins replaced turnips.

Jack-o’-lanterns became a seasonal decoration before the 20th century.

The mayor of Atlanta held a huge Halloween party in 1892 with pumpkins lit from within and carved with faces. That was really the start of Halloween pumpkin decorating as we know it.

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