The Irish tradition of the Jack O’Lantern, originated from a tale centuries old of a lazy and shrewd farmer named Stingy Jack, who liked playing tricks on everyone. Stingy Jack’s favorite food was turnips, which he carried with him whenever he had the opportunity to steal them from other farmers.
Irish legend, hundreds of years old, give us the story of Stingy Jack, who was nothing more than a mean old drunk. One day his trickery got the better of him when he tricked the Devil into climbing up a nearby apple tree. As the legend goes, once the Devil was up the tree, Stingy Jack placed crosses at the base of the tree so that the Devil could not come down.
A Deal with the Devil
Jack refused to remove the crosses, trapping the Devil in the tree, until the Devil promised Jack that he would not take his soul when he died. Many years later Jack died and he went before Saint Peter and the pearly gates of Heaven. Saint Peter told Jack that he was not allowed to enter Heaven because of the mean and cruel ways he acted as a man during his life on earth. Jack then went to Hell where he tried to enter, the Devil keeping his promise, would not allow him to enter.
Jack turned and saw that the way back was windy and dark so asked the Devil how he was supposed to leave when there was no light for him to see. The Devil threw him a fiery ember from the flames of Hell which Jack placed into a hollowed out turnip to help light his way. For all eternity Jack is left to roam the earth in unrest, carrying his Jack O’Lantern to light his way.