Thursday, October 25, 2018

Turnip To Pumpkin?

Jack-O-Lanterns, Lit, Pumpkins  I was watching one of the reruns of "Call the Midwife" the other night.  It was Halloween and the nuns were carving huge turnips which triggered something in my brain.

It is said that the Jack-O-Lantern comes from Irish folklore.  Supposedly, they carved scary faces in turnips or beets to keep unwanted creatures away from them on that night. 

The story from the 17th century goes that Jack O'Lantern was condemned to walk the earth after making a couple of deals with the devil.  Jack's original name was Stingy Jack who was known as being a foul mouthed drunk.  He invited the Devil out for a drink and when it came time to pay, there was dead silence as each expected the other to pay for it.  At this point, Jack convinced him to turn into a coin to pay for it.  Once the Devil had changed into a coin, Jack pocketed it right next to a silver cross so he couldn't turn back and stiffed the barkeep. After a while, Jack released the Devil with the idea that the Devil wouldn't bother him for a full year and wouldn't take his soul when he died.

One year later, when the Devil returned to collect Jack, Jack convinced him to climb a tree to get a piece of fruit before they took off for hell.  Once the Devil was up the tree, Jack carved a cross in the trunk.  The Devil remained in the tree until he agreed to leave Stingy Jack alone for the next 10 years and upon his death, not claim his soul at all. 

Well, sometime over the next 10 years, Jack died but when he went to heaven, God refused to let him in because he'd not lived a godly life so he sent Jack to hell but the Devil wouldn't let him in because he'd agreed not to take Jack's soul so he was forced to stay in the eternal night, carrying a lantern made of a carved turnip with a lump of burning coal to light his way.

Originally, he was known as Jack of the Lantern which evolved into Jack O'Lantern.  It is said the people of Ireland and Scotland carved their own grotesque faces in turnips, potatoes, or beets before placing them in the windows to keep Jack and other evil spirits away.  When the Irish and Scottish came to America, they discovered the pumpkin was perfect for carving so switched to it.

Over time, carving pumpkins have become a normal part of Halloween in the United States. People have elevated it to an art form while others like myself are lucky to carve a face in it so it doesn't look like Frankenstein.  I figure mine will keep anything and everything away.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.