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Impress… Someone (?) … With The Real History Of Jack ‘O Lanterns

More than likely that by that time you read this — since I am writing it three days before Halloween — you will have either been forced by your girlfriend to carve pumpkins or can at least remember scraping out that nasty goop at some point in your life.

Maybe you thought to yourself in either occasion, Why the fvck am I doing this? or Where did this fvcking awful idea come from?

Well, I am here to answer the second part. And pay attention so you can tell your friends when you are wasted. This is like prepping for Drunk History, so really focus.

Carving pumpkins, at least according to the History Channel, comes from an Irish folktale of “Stingy Jack” … a man who was not so careful with his tricks and maybe should have given out some more treats.

So, Stingy Jack, you see, was just trying to enjoy a drink at his local pub with the Devil … a totally normal demonic entity to chill and drink with, naturally… when he tricked him into showing him a magic trick in exchange for his soul.

The devil has quite the history of doing things in exchange for souls and losing… I mean, between this next bit, Faust, and a fiddlin’ contest, this devil is pretty easy to negotiate with… offer him a soul and then beat him in the deal.

Anyways, the trick was for the Devil to turn himself into a gold coin.. you know, for Jack’s soul.. what Devil can resist. No sooner had the devil accomplished his task, Jack grabbed the coin and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross he had inside his pocket. This apparently tricked the devil, you sneaky bastard, and so, now, Stingy Jack would only release the Devil when he was promised his soul back in return.

Not sure what this accomplished. The Devil was inside a coin, in his pocket, protected by a cross… and being 1-0 versus the Devil would be enough for me…. but not for Stingy Jack… that dude has some brass fvcking balls… and the Devil simply can’t resist a deal that involves a soul.

So, Jack got the devil to start doing tasks for him… like.. climb a tree to retrieve fruit for him, in exchange for his soul…

Well that stupid ass devil, just watched Jack carve a cross into the tree trunk where Jack only agreed to cover it up and allow the Devil to be released when the Devil promised to not call in that whole soul swap thing until at least ten years after his death.

Honestly, Jack just thought that after 10 years in heaven it would be enough and then he would totally pay up with his soul.

Well, well, well… Stingy Jack did not think ahead to the fact that entrance to heaven probably has some contingency requirements that include not making multiple deals with the Devil.

Jack, now decidedly down on his luck, was basically in purgatory for this decade between death and the devil coming to collect.

As part of his punishment and banishment, he was meandering through the darkness of purgatory with a carved out turnip (pumpkins weren’t a big thing in Ireland, I guess) that was lit by a burning lump of coal… and boom, Stingy Jack was re-named Jack of the Lantern… which was shortened with that Irish accent to Jack ‘O Lantern.

Carving Jack ‘O Lanterns then became a much more ‘American’ tradition (and involved pumpkins) when the Irish migrated across the sea and brought it stateside.

After they got here we promptly took the idea, bastardized it, claimed it as our own, and then totally forgot to spread the mythology of Stingy Jack.

Now you know. I hope you spread it around to several friends who will not care at all, but it may come in handy someday at a trivia night.

Also… don’t make deals with the devil for your soul, unless you have some better out’s than Stingy Jack.

What do you think?

Written by Malcolm Henry

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