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The History & Legends of Jack O' Lanterns
Carving Jack O' Lanterns is a Halloween custom that dates back to ancient Ireland, although the first Jack-o-Lanterns were made of turnips, beets or even hollowed out potatoes, not pumpkins. The large orange squashes didn't come into prominence until Irish immigrants settled in the United States, where pumpkins were cheaper and more plentiful than turnips.

Several version of an Irish legend tells of a man named Stingy Jack, who invited the Devil to have a drink. When it came time to pay, he convinced the Devil to change into a sixpence, but instead of paying for the drink Jack pocketed the sixpence and kept it stored beside a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back. Jack made a deal with the Devil before letting him free that the Devil could not harass him. Next Halloween Jack died and was turned back from the Gates of Heaven. He went to the Gates of Hell and the Devil told him to go away, as Jack had made him promise not to claim his soul. Jack didn't want to leave because it was dark and he couldn't find his way. The Devil tossed Jack a glowing coal and Jack put it inside a turnip, and ever since with this "Jack O' Lantern", Stingy jack's lonely soul has been roaming the faces of this earth.

Another version has Jack tricking Beezelbub into climbing a tree, where upon Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil in his high perch. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let Lucifer down from the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. The rest of the legend remains the same.

About the Author
Cheri Sicard is the editor of, where you can celebrate Halloween with recipes, pumpkin carving, crafts and decorating ideas, e-cards and Awesome Free Jack O' Lantern Patterns!

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