When I was a kid, even when I was a young mother the Jack-O-Lantern looked about like any of the images above. Simple and something most of us could carve. These days Jack-O-Lantern carving is an art form and a wonder to behold. I never get tired of being amazed at what someone can make from a pumpkin.
There are usually a few good programs on television showing these wonderful carved pumpkin art forms and I watch them all.
The Jack -O’- Lantern in the image below was carved by one of those artists. Isn’t it spectacular?
I’ve always liked Halloween. Perhaps because I’ve always loved autumn and the wonderful fall colors. Perhaps because I regard Halloween as the gateway to Thanksgiving and then my favorite Holiday, Christmas. Who could not love a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus?
But that’s down the road and this is about Halloween.
The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.
The endless creativity of the pumpkin artists as well as ordinary people amazes me.
Isn’t the scene below terrific?
Or how about this one? It must look spectacular at night with a light inside.
I love the fact that someone took the time to carve a Christian Jack-O’-Lantern.
How about the spidery Jack -O’- Lantern below?
I love the carved pumpkins and the marvelous creativity. What wonderful things we can do if we try. And with something as simple as carving a pumpkin.
Here’s an advertisement, using Jack O’Lanterns for a Jack O’Lantern Spectacular.
People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.
Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
You can read the rest of the legend here: History of the Jack- O’ – Lantern.
Did you know that the original jack-o’-lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes or beets? I learned that from the History Channel. When it comes to politics or a lot of history I tend not to place much credence in the History Channel. They have a bias and a bias in reporting history makes me very angry. But I think they can be trusted about pumpkins.
Pumpkin artists give us everything from the Death Star…
To the Grim Reaper.
And they didn’t leave out Linus and the Great Pumpkin story either.
All Hallows Eve:
It was in the eighth century that the Catholic Church appointed a special date for the feast of All Saints, followed by a day in honor of her soon-to-be saints, the feast of All Souls. The church chose this time of year, it is supposed, because in her part of the world it was the time of barrenness on the earth. The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. Snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter.
Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a “soul cake” in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Soul cakes, a form of shortbread and sometimes quite fancy, with currants for eyes became more important for the beggars than prayers for the dead, it is said. Florence Berger tells in her Cooking for Christ a legend of a zealous cook who vowed she would invent soul cakes to remind them of eternity at every bite. So she cut a hole in the middle and dropped it in hot fat, and lo a doughnut. Circle that it is, it suggests the never-ending of eternity. Truth or legend, it serves a good purpose at Halloween.
We once had a neighbor that referred to me, because of my love of Halloween, as a wretched little pagan. My father gave her a lesson, calmly and quietly in church history and if she ever claimed there after that she didn’t know all about “All Hallows Eve” and how it had been a part of Christianity for hundreds of years it wasn’t because my Dad didn’t educate her. She was one of the many who like to turn innocent pleasures into sin. Personally I think she was just too cheap to buy candy. So there Mrs. Murphy!
I know that many of the children of today don’t get to always enjoy the fun of going door to door and “Trick or Treating” like we did. Still much of the “feeling” of the Holiday remains.
Children and adults enjoy dressing up and playing pretend. I wish them all the fun of the Holiday. And I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween with or without Jack-O’-Lanterns. Otherwise, it’s just Monday.