How the Jack-O'-Lantern Emerged from Irish Folklore

How the Jack-O’-Lantern Emerged from Irish Folklore

The Irish legend of the Jack-O’-Lantern centers around a character named “Stingy Jack.” A man so cheap, he never paid for his own drinks (or, anyone else’s). When he crossed paths with the devil, his way out of trouble was to invite the deceiver to have a drink.

But, when it came time to pay, Jack said that he had no money and convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin in order to pay for the drinks. Although, Jack didn’t pay the bartender. Instead, he shoved the coin into his pocket near a silver cross, so the devil could not transform back.

Stingy Jack made a pact with the devil to release him if the underworld figure agreed not to bother Jack for the next year, nor attempt to steal his soul.

The Origin of the Jack-O’-Lantern

The devil and Stingy Jack ​eventually ​crossed paths again,​ and Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree to steal fruit. This time, carving a cross into the trunk to prevent the hellion from climbing down. Jack agreed again to release the devil, with the stipulation that he would be safe for at least the next decade.

However, Stingy Jack passed away soon thereafter,​ and God rejected his ascent into heaven because he was such an unsavory character. The devil likewise forbade him to descend into hell, ​and Jack was forever forced to walk the earth with a single candle, burning inside a turnip, potato, or pumpkin, hence the legend of the Jack-O’-Lantern.