Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Why is it called a jack-o'-lantern?

Ever wondered why it is called the "jack-o'-lantern"? And where the name originated?

By definition, a jack-o'-lantern is a carved pumpkin, or turnip, associated chiefly with the holiday of Halloween. It is named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called will-o'-the-wisp or jack-o'-lantern. The visual phenomenon is known as ignis fatuus (translated to: "foolish fire"), known as a will-o'-the-wisp in English folklore.

An old Irish folk tale from the mid-19th Century tells of Stingy Jack, a lazy yet shrewd blacksmith who uses a cross to trap Satan. One story[25] says that Jack tricked Satan into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that Satan couldn't get down. Another tale[citation needed] says that Jack put a key in Satan's pocket while he was suspended upside-down.

Jack-o-lanterns were also a way of protecting your home against the Undead. Superstitious people used them specifically to ward away vampires. They thought this because it was said that the Jack-o-lantern's light was a way of identifying vampires and, once their identity was known, they would give up their hunt for you.

Making a jack-o'-lantern:

In a jack-o'-lantern, the top part of the pumpkin (or parsnip) is cut off to form a lid, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved out of the pumpkin's rind to expose the hollow interior. To create the lantern effect, a light source is placed within before the lid is closed.

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