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The History Of Jack-O'-Lanterns

As Halloween approaches, chances are you have chosen your pumpkin and are preparing to carve some spooky faces out of it. But have you ever wondered how and why this tradition came about?

Well, it's a fascinating story, deeply rooted in Irish folklore. Read on and prepare to be scaaaaaaaared!!!

The Legend of Stingy Jack

Our tale begins with Stingy Jack, a notorious character in Irish folklore, often described as a devious and miserly man. According to the legend, Stingy Jack was not only thrifty but also very cunning. One fateful night, he invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but, true to his name, Jack was too tight-fisted to pay for the drinks. In a devilish twist, Jack managed to convince the Devil to transform into a coin to pay for the drinks, but instead, he pocketed the coin and placed it next to a silver cross, preventing the Devil from transforming back.

Jack eventually released the Devil, but only after securing a promise that he would not claim Jack's soul when he passed away. However, as Stingy Jack's legend spread, it became clear that his cunning nature had no bounds. He continued his deceitful ways, including tricking the Devil again!

Legend has it that after Jack died, God would not allow such a scoundrel into heaven. The Devil, upset by the tricks Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. Jack was sent off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

People began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into turnips and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other evil spirits wandering the Earth. In England, large beets were used. When people emigrated to the United States from Ireland, they took this tradition of making Jack O' Lanterns with them. However, as pumpkins were so abundant here, people soon realised that these were a lot easier to carve than a hard turnip!

As a Halloween treat, head over to my TPT store and download this completely FREE Power Point and book template. The Power Point teaches students all about pumpkins, including the story of Stingy Jack, the history of pumpkins and the growing stages of a pumpkin.

PLUS templates of two different books for children to make. Suitable for all ages.

You might also like this pumpkin lifecycle printable from our freebie library.

Pumpkin lifecycle PDF UK
Download PDF • 2.26MB

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