Stingy Jack is better known as Jack-o’-Lantern and his story is a spooky one!…
People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries..the idea of carving out pumpkins with ghoulish faces illuminated by candles originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as early lanterns.
In fact, the name, jack-o’-lantern, comes from an Irish folktale about a man named “Stingy Jack.” As the the story goes, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him but, 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 kept the money, putting it in his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his real self.
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. He persuaded him to climb 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.
Not long after, Jack died. The legend says that God would not allow such an unsavoury figure into Heaven and that the Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him but keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into Hell, so 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, too stingy to get his own home.
The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns, in Ireland and Scotland by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and in England in large beets, and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits..these countries brought the jack-o’-lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States where they soon found that the American pumpkin, a fruit native to the country, makes a perfect jack-o’-lantern
Written by features writer Jon Lewes