July 26, 2021

Stingy Jack and the birth of a Jack-O-Lantern

Stingy Jack and the birth of a Jack-O-Lantern

Have you ever sat back and wondered where the Jack-O-Lantern came from?  I mean we all just know that it belongs to Halloween, but have you ever wondered why?  If you know the history, you also know that the original Jack-O-Lanterns weren’t even pumpkins!  They started out as radishes or even potatoes.  I know!  You’re like ‘WHAT?’!  I was too.  Then I was like ‘so why carve a radish’?  Well….there starts the history and a man named Stingy Jack!

It’s an old Irish folklore about a man named Stingy Jack.  See, there’s a story around Jack, the devil and a drink.  Old Jack was pretty smart and tricked the Devil.  Jack was stingy and didn’t want to pay, so instead he asked the Devil to turn himself into a coin so he could pay for their drinks.  Ole Stingy though, he didn’t want to part with that coin so he put it in his pocket.  Along with the coin was a silver cross which actually inhibited the Devil from returning to his natural self.  The long story short of it, Jack and the Devil went back and forth with some old fashioned bartering which kept Jack from losing his soul.  Let’s just say the Devil was pissed…so once Jack died, he wasn’t allowed into hell.  The bad thing is he wasn’t allowed into Heaven either, so he was doomed to roam the Earth for eternity.  As a parting gift, the Devil gave Jack a lump of burning coal (hmmm, sounds like a Christmas story) that he then used to light his way.  In the original folklore, Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip as a lantern, henceforth gaining the name ‘Jack of the Lantern’ which then later became ‘Jack O’Lantern’. 


As the story proliferates through Ireland and Scotland, the scary faces end up on turnips and potatoes.  The myth was that if you placed it near doors or windows, it would keep the wandering spirits away (and keep ole Jack away!).  England had their own twist, by carving up beets.  It was only when the story made it’s way to the good ole America that pumpkins became the fruit of choice for carving. 

We can’t go without even thinking of Halloween.  There are so many options when decorating with Jack-O-Lanterns!  You have Johanna Parker Halloween items that include papier mache lanterns, characters such as Pumpkin Pete, dainty characters in the teapot and tea cup collection and more! 

Jack O’Lanterns are used in so many shapes and forms.  Michelle Lauritsen of A Pinch of Prim uses pumpkins as a base and then adds fun characters on top like a black cat (also a Halloween staple) or an owl.  Michelle Allen of Raggedy Pants has darling pumpkinheads in her collection.  Then there is Glitterville.  Glitterville Halloween includes many, many pumpkin options including Bumpkin Betty and Gossip Gourdy, the Partyville Pumpkins and Halloween buckets.  Jack O’Lanterns come in all shapes and sizes for Halloween, even as wall art that can be used in tiered tray displays!

If you can’t find what you are looking for, reach out!  We’ll be happy to help you find what you love.