Legend of Stingy Jack
Jack O' Lanterns can be found on nearly every porch during Halloween - often with extravagant designs that took hours to perfect.

As we inch closer to Halloween, the sight of carved Jack O' Lanterns sitting on front steps and porches becomes familiar. But did you ever stop to think why we engage in this curious tradition? Pumpkins have been carved and illuminated for centuries, yet few people know the origins behind the practice. How did we decide to start carving pumpkins, and how did they become a universally-recognized symbol of Halloween?

With the season of spooks upon us, it seems only fitting to explore the history of the Jack O' Lantern, and the lore that led to this now ubiquitous symbol. To tell this story properly, though, we must go back to the Irish legend of ol' Stingy Jack and his encounter with the Devil.

Dealing with the Devil Dealing with the Devil

Stingy Jack was not well liked in his community; an overt drunk, liar, and manipulator, his poor reputation knew no bounds. It went so far, in fact, that the Devil himself heard rumors of Jack's malevolence. So intrigued was the Devil, that he had to see if the stories were true.

One dark Halloween night, as Jack stumbled home, he came across a body on a cobblestone path. Suddenly, the body arose and took the form of the Devil. Jack realized he was in trouble. Thinking fast, he offered the Devil his soul in exchange for one last drink. It was a deal the Devil could not refuse.

Back at the pub, the Devil turned himself into a coin to pay for Jack's drink. But rather than giving the coin to the bartender, Jack stuffed it into his pocket where he also kept a silver cross. Held captive and unable to escape, Jack made the Devil agree to leave him alone for a period of ten years. The Devil agreed. Jack took the coin out of his pocket, and the Devil went free.

Exactly ten years later, the Devil returned. This time, Stingy Jack was prepared. Before the Devil could claim his soul, Jack convinced him to climb an apple tree and retrieve a piece of fruit so Jack could enjoy one last earthly delight before his soul was collected. And so up the tree did the Devil climb, to pick the biggest, shiniest apple available. As he did this, Jack quickly surrounded the tree trunk with crucifixes, ensuring that the Devil couldn't come down. Once more the Devil was held captive. This time, Jack made the Devil promise that he would not come for Stingy Jack's soul even after he died. Seeing no way out of the trap he'd fallen into, the Devil reluctantly agreed.

Stingy Jack walks in the dark The Jack O' Lantern is Born

Upon his death, Jack went to the Gates of Heaven and asked for entrance. But so terrible were his sins on Earth, that his request was denied. With no other options, Jack was forced to go down to Hell where he begged the Devil to allow him to enter. However, the Devil would not go back on his promise and refused to claim Jack's soul.

Denied entrance to Hell, and unwelcome in Heaven, Jack found himself doomed to walk between the worlds of the living and the dead in endless night. Unable to navigate in the dark, he pleaded with the Devil to give him a light. As a final parting gesture, the Devil offered him a single ember from the eternal fires of Hell. Before embarking on his journey, Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out turnip (his favorite food, which he always kept close at hand) to help illuminate the way. From that day on, Stingy Jack has roamed the eternal darkness between worlds, guided only by the light of his makeshift lantern.

The Tradition Spreads

From this legend grew a European tradition of carving wicked faces into turnips and beets in hopes that the scary faces would keep ol' Jack away. These fruits were then hollowed out, and illuminated from within using coals from the fireplace. However, carving a turnip or beet is not easy to do, and once the Europeans began to colonize what is now the United States, they were introduced to the pumpkin. Larger than beets and turnips (and much easier to carve) pumpkins quickly supplanted their smaller relatives to become the standard canvas for Jack O' Lanterns.

Fast forward to today, and Jack O' Lanterns can be found on nearly every porch during Halloween - often with extravagant designs that took hours to perfect. And while they make for great holiday decorations, its unclear whether they're actuallyeffective in warding off Stingy Jack.


  1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

    Hmmmmm.....yay. The uber-religious and God blessed jack-o-lantern. With a complete and utter fairy tale as it's history.

    I'm impressed.

    1. Rev. Thomas's Avatar Rev. Thomas

      But thats the America way! slander and smear anyone els's traditions into Satanism and devil worship! Christians are so 2 faced! they literally demonize any religion that isn't like theirs! The story the posted isn't even real. Its completely made up! Just like their "one true god"!

      1. Kat's Avatar Kat

        I don't understand why everybody is so mean can't we all just believe what we want and can't the people who don't believe it I just believe just respect the fact that everyone's different and be glad that we're all different think how boring life would be if we were all the same Love and peace to you all Minister Katherine Strid

        1. Joyce's Avatar Joyce

          Well spoken words ...

      2. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

        Spot on

      3. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

        Well......way to generalize. Not "all Christians" are like that.

        Oh, and I guess as long as it's what YOU believe, it's true, right?

        Just sayin'.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Are wandering spirits just a figment of our imagination, or is there sufficient evidence yet that they are real?

    1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

      SHOW ME THE PROOF! Ahahahahahahahahahaha.

      1. Rev. Thomas's Avatar Rev. Thomas

        Show me the proof Jesus existed! There is NONE! Yet you insist your delusion is real! You know the difference between a CULT and an organized religion? The number of members!!!!

        1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          WHOA "Rev." Thomas!

          You are just talking out of your a ss when you say things like that. That makes for -0- credibility.

          So, what's your cult called?

        2. Pam's Avatar Pam

          You can find many references to Jesus. Try reading Edgar Casey and Ruth Montgomery. They teach that Jeasus has reincarnated many times on this planet. He comes to teach us. We also reincarnated purportedly to become closer to and eventually rejoin the creator with the successful completion of the plan we set up before we come back. Some people progress and others become enamored in earthly pleasures of the flesh and don't make much progress. This planet is a school. We are here to learn love. Because God is love.

        3. Rev Carolyn's Avatar Rev Carolyn

          Rev Thomas, go to the books on Roman history. Jesus, the new religious movement he bought about and even his death is there. You may not believe in God but Jesus has been proven.

      2. Rev V's Avatar Rev V

        How do you know it's not true

        1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          Oh, ghosties and demons and angels could all be "real". Or maybe not......no one can say for sure.

    2. Lori's Avatar Lori

      They appear to be real to those who believe they are. For some strange reason people seem to want demons, devils and ghosts to exist. Personally, I have no need for such things, so I've never encountered them.

      1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

        I have no want or need for demons, or ghosts. I was being sarcastic.

        1. Lori's Avatar Lori

          I wasn't responding to you. You can be as sarcastic as you like, but it's good to hear you're not into the whole demon thing.

          1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

            I LOVE the way the web convolutes everything. lol.

      2. Rev. Thomas's Avatar Rev. Thomas

        appear to be real... just like the christians think of their Jesus!

        1. Terence Humphrey's Avatar Terence Humphrey

          John 3:17-18

        2. Lori's Avatar Lori

          Rev. Thomas... yes, Jesus is dead and gone, but Christians still believe he is present and there is nothing wrong with that if it brings them comfort. If they think that theirs is the only way, then they have problems. It is pure arrogance to think you have all the answers.....and many do.

          1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

            Then there are those who insist THEY are right, of course they have no proof either, lol.

          2. Lori's Avatar Lori

            Anyone, Christian, Pagan, atheist, whatever....if they think theirs is the only and correct path they are part of the BIG problem that plagues the world. Each person has their own way of looking at spirituality, or not, and we all make our way to the same destination. If people could grasp that and accept it, it would be a better world.

          3. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

            Right on Lori. Live and let live, to each their own.

  1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

    yep just like Santa and the Easter Bunny. All made up to scare the daylights out of us so Steven King can get rich.

    1. Tooth Fairy's Avatar Tooth Fairy

      You're scared of Santa and the Easter Bunny?

      1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

        No only Steven King. You mis undertook me.

  1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

    Ever notice how there seems to be more evil in the world than good these days? And the tv news alwsys reports the Bad. That's because we allow it. Time to try Peace and love. Don't let your child dress up as the devil. Take control. Start by being nice to the people around you. Open the door for someone. Say goog morning to the person serving your coffee at Star Bucks. I don't know about you, but I think we have had enough hate in this world. Let's make it stop.

    1. Janine Salisbury's Avatar Janine Salisbury

      God is love and love is the answer

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        Yep! God is love, that’s why he drowned men, women, and “children” on the face of the earth, apart from that drunkard and his family.

        He had major anger management issues. I thought Hitlers genocide was bad!

        1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          Where's your proof? lol. Rediculous.

          1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

            Call me delusional all you want. I'd rather live in Janine's world than one where you have to find hate and doom in everything.

          2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Sure! You can live in Janines delusional world, and why not, millions do. They always say God is love, which is clearly obvious they haven’t read the Old Testament. He’s one very angry jealous dude!

            Personally, I find the Harry Potter books better than the one most Christians like to blindly follow.

        2. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          You love your assumptions, don't you?.....and your generalizations.

          Have you read the New Testament?

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Please don't tell me the things I've stated about the Old Testament are assumptions. If you do, then you haven't read it. You'll be telling me next that I'm generalizing if I mention that God struck down all the first born babies in Egypt. He didn't just stop there, he was having such a temper tantrum he also struck down the first born of all livestock. Do you think I'm still assuming? Take a look at Exodus 12. Exodus is in the Old Testament being as you think I'm assuming and generalizing.

            As for the New Testament, it's my understanding that it's still the same God....right? Or am I assuming and generalizing? Please tell me where in the New Testament your God, or Jesus, denounced slavery. He had some wonderful commandments that he told everyone like don't kill, don't steal, don't tell lies, love your neighbor. Wouldn't you have thought it was the perfect opportunity to denounce slavery? I guess he must have been happy with it. I'm sure those that were still in bondage at that time must have been thinking "WTF". "What about us? Where's the "love" for us in bondage"?

            But, I'm sure you still think I'm just generalizing, because your Jesus is such a wonderful guy. After all, he oozes love, he could walk on water, and turn water in Merlot :) , and ignore those in slavery.

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Seems almost as real as Sasquatch and space aliens, more real than socialist Utopia.

    1. Tooth Fairy's Avatar Tooth Fairy

      Kids these days are being indoctrinated by this nonsense from the left. These kids need the Bible. They need to know about a talking snake, multi-headed monsters, an old man constructing a ship all on his own without modern tools that fit 7.7 million animal species despite being smaller than the Titanic, god-ordained incestuous rape, god demanding the murder of an innocent child as a practical joke, and the requirement that members of other religions be killed and their property destroyed or stolen. Most importantly, they need to memorize the word of god and keep it with them, especially Ezekiel 23:20.

      1. chiefhall's Avatar chiefhall

        Tooth Fairy and Gerbil - you both are hilarious! Thank you for a much-needed smile!

      2. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

        haha! A person's interpretation says much about them, especially when they accept another interpretation for their own. ;-)

      3. Minister Anthony's Avatar Minister Anthony

        Great post.

    2. biblical scholar's Avatar biblical scholar

      It's as real as Donald and Melania's love for one another!

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        Yep, it’s as real as Obama’s US Birth Certificate

        1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          Crazy political talk here. No one knows about the trumps "love" for each other, but the Obama thing is waaaay past old news....the only people who hang onto the whole "Obama has a fake birth certificate" are lost in the past. Probably still whining about Ms. Clinton as well. Guess it's easy to forget what a piece of womanizing crap trump was/is, or the fact that he constantly lies.

          Let it go, go got your "president", now live with it, haha.

          And before you go off on me and generalize, I have no interest or connection to EITHER of the two parties that are destroying our country.

  1. Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer's Avatar Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer

    I know Sasquatch. He's a lock smith with A 1 lock smith of Fairfield, Connecticut. Hangs out at Dunkin Donuts. Ask any body. Every one in Fairfield knows him.

    1. chiefhall's Avatar chiefhall

      yes, but has anyone ever gotten a non-blurry picture of him?

      1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

        No you will need a wide lens for that. He's a big guy. And he's over 6 foot tall.

        1. Lori's Avatar Lori

          I saw him awhile back. He was making a trek through Southington!

  1. Scott's Avatar Scott


  1. Christian's Avatar Christian

    All physical meterial is just Energy in 'solid form', and ALL of it combines only accounts for 5% of the contents of the visible Universe, or our multiverse instence, as it is...

    So, if you have a Higgs Field nullifier, and can negate the mass-effect of your energy, you can easily build a ship to travel faster than light.

    If we 'physical' creatures can invent Star-Drives powered by Dark Energy Reactors, this Universe is all ours for the taking.

    If we creatures can Live in just 5% of our Universe, certainly some other creatures may be living in the 95% of Dark Matter and Dark Energy we can only detect by reference.

  1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

    I love all the Holidays..I don't follow the hate of religion in demonizing others. For Halloween to me its great fun for everyone to pick a fun costume. I look at it as just away to remember our past ancestors.. Also I like to follow the pagan ways at seasons change..Forget the dogma.

  1. Dragon Priest's Avatar Dragon Priest

    Haha christianity is so full of church crap. First of all, this devil is fiction all made up. Demons are a different thing and do not look like pumpkins... fools. Legend of ... right.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      It sounds as though you believe, and know, what demons look like. Please educate us with all the supporting data you might have, this could be very interesting.

      1. Dragon Priest's Avatar Dragon Priest

        Ha... found a few and have you ever turned one into powder? So easy to do. But I do not recommend anyone to try this. It requires Power and Authority besides the right tools. If you know how, then you can do it and are allowed to. Otherwise it is useless to explain. I can tell you that prayer is ineffective and these guys move faster than sage smoke can affect them. I'll give you a clue, shaped energy.

        1. Lori's Avatar Lori

          Wow. Really? You're pretty funny. You are joking, right.

    2. Sammy's Avatar Sammy

      Rev Paul really and you are rev talking yea wright I want to go to your church you must not read the bible or you just leave the truth out

      1. Lori's Avatar Lori

        ULC is not just for Christians and the bible thumpers. It's for everyone. UN-I-VER-SAL.

        1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

          From most of the comments on this "blog" (all of the ULC blogs) I am guessing there are more atheists and new age folks here than Christians.

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Actually, I think you'll find they are realists, and secular humanists, that listen, research, and understand reason.

          2. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

            I know a few Christians that humanists, that listen, research, and understand reason. Admittedly, not alot.

            There is one "Christian" I have to deal with that tells me things like "My pastor told me that God told him that your daughter practices witchcraft". Then again, I know atheists who are so closed minded, it's a waste of time to have a conversation with them. They know it all, are never wrong, and get mad at anyone who dares challenge them.

            Takes every kind of people I guess.

      2. Dragon Priest's Avatar Dragon Priest

        Wow, are you just dense? Not all people are christians as defined by some religions. My church is where ever I AM. I have read that bible and its not the only or definitive book on the subject. BTW, if you ever meet the real Jesus, you just might be surprised. But that is my truth Sammy, may you find yours.

        1. Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer's Avatar Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer

          If Sammy is who I think he is then you will have to forgive him cause he's just plain stupid. Comes from a long line of stupid people. Had a brother Teddy worse than him.

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    It is naïve to entertain ideas that might cause disruption in one's spiritual existence.

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    The news was just warning us not to take our little ones to homes with sexual predators. They were showing police/deputies making their annual trips to the sexual predators houses in the neighborhood, to make sure they know not to participate in the annual festivities.

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Cute fable.

  1. Chris's Avatar Chris

    Thank you John, cute fable. C'mon guys. We don't have to believe in something to enjoy a good story. God gave us the imagination - imagine and have fun.

  1. Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer's Avatar Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer

    you mean holloween isn't a holiday made up by candy makers?

  1. Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer's Avatar Past Security Enforcement Loss Prevention Officer

    went to wal mart for candy. They got Christmas trees up already. skip right over Thanksgiving why don't ya. No money in Thanksgiving so they go right to the BIG MONEY holiday. How sad. Forgot what Christmas is all about .

  1. Mark's Avatar Mark

    The fact that anyone denies the existence of Christ, proves they are compelled to seek Christ out , the belief in GOD, the light is in us all. You can not touch Joy or a lot of other emotions, yet they exsist? Denial is the path straight to Christ!

  1. Kenneth Higham's Avatar Kenneth Higham

    I see nothing religious to hallowe’en. This evening is the eve of All Saints’. The evening is listed as a fast. That doesn’t leave much time for parties. Let people have their fun, especially children but for the rest of us the focus is not in candy or beer it is on all the saints, known and unknown who collectively have their birthday on 1 November. Happy All Saints’ Day!

  1. A druid's Avatar A druid

    Happy Samhain everyone.

    1. Lori's Avatar Lori

      And to you!

  1. Terrance Barratta's Avatar Terrance Barratta

    Rev T.J. Sorry to horn in on the conversation, but i had to put in my 2 cents worth. I believe its not the religion that will ultimately save you. Its what you do while your alive and here that will dictate what happens next. Wheather you believe in 1 God or 2 or 3 or not at all. I believe that no 1 religion is completely 100 percent right. Therefore keeping in that line of thinking. Have a happy and safe Halloween,Christmass,Easter, etc. etc.

  1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

    why do we even get into these topics? does it matter one way or the other if the devil is real or demons haunt houses? Long as it's not Your house you have nothing to worry about. There are ULC ministers who will do a house blessing if you think you need one. And the Catholics do that thing to rid you of evil spirits. HOLY WATER? I DON'T THINK SO. It's tap water

    So how is it Holy?

  1. I.S. Johnson's Avatar I.S. Johnson

    That's Bunk to its core. The Gaelic tradition of Sohwain (that is not the correct spelling) was Christianized into an existing day, All Saints Day's Eve, when the ghosts of those not passed over walked the earth. People wore costumes to not be recognized by said ghosts and have them attach themselves to them. They carved turnips to ward off the same spirits. In the colonies the turnips became pumpkins and Sohwain was bastardized to Sam Hain. Halloween comes from the bastardization of All Hollows Eve. The holiday was nearly unobserved in most of the country until the late 1890's.


    For heaven's sake can't we just have a few traditions left alone. What the heck is everyone so bloody whiney about. If you don't like it do not participate and leave those that enjoy it alone. Our nation is becoming a bunch of dime store Napoleons.

    I like a scary Pumpkin and I will not be cowed by haters.

    Good Day to all

  1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

    I am a "Christian" and I find nothing wrong with Halloween, where ever it came from.

  1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

    Ok, Let's talk THANKSGIVING now. When you were a child what was the one thing you looked forward to eatting. I mean besides the turkey. Was it the hot rolls dripping with butter? The cranberry sauce? Or the pumkin pie? Did you get up early and watch the Macy's parade on t.v. or maybe even go to New York to see it? Me, I always wanted to go but never got there. Here in my home town of Bridgeport,CT we have the Central Harding football game. That always started a fight in my house because I went to Central but my sister went to Harding. Long Story. Anyway I always looked forward to this special Italian salad my father would make only on holidays. Had everything but the kitchen sink in it. And he made it with pepers that made it HOT. That's what I will miss this Thankshiving. For me it just woun't be the same without it. But as long as I get my cherry pie I'll be happy. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

  1. Minister R Sepeda's Avatar Minister R Sepeda

    For strange reasons some people want demons, devils & ghosts to exist, Though, they appear to be real to those who believe they are. I have no reason to reject Halloween. I was raise back then, we would bring about 4 grocery bags full of candies no need to worry if it was poison.

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    Moral to this story is what?

    1. power to the people's Avatar power to the people

      People carve pumpkins...

  1. minister Hall Burns's Avatar minister Hall Burns

    I personally have been threw way to much in my life to not believe if you don’t that’s fine but you have no right to take that from me some of the comments on here are sickening but hey that’s the power of freedom of speech instead of slamming god and Jesus go do something with your time don’t judge what other people choose to have faith in cause I have true faith and my faith has gotten me threw things I wouldn’t have been able to get threw alone. Just understand we don’t all think alike we weren’t meant to but before you judge remember not everyone is you so you may not believe in god but I promise you hurting others with words that offend Karma is quiet real and doesn’t come to only certain people be mindful of things uncalled for

    1. Christopher j welsh's Avatar Christopher j welsh

      Spelling is a bit dodgy but I agree with you mate! Bless you!

  1. Brent E Thomas Pastor's Avatar Brent E Thomas Pastor

    I've always said that that the one who stops casting a rock or pebbles in the river or body of water stop the ripple effect. All blaming thats going on in this world. I've heard said that the goverment just keep on doing things that .always conflicting to everyone an even have ones believe everything they haer

  1. Greg's Avatar Greg

    Y'all....this is just a story. Like that's literally all it is, and was ever meant to be. Just a fun piece of folklore. Like dang, can y'all chill and just enjoy a post? Like good lord, no one is asking you to believe this. These guys just shared this story because it was in the spirit of the season. Good lord, no one is trying to blame the devil for anything, no one is saying that spirits are real, no one is saying we need to carve pumpkins to stay safe or else the boogyman is going to get us. I don't understand why people on this blog are so quick to spew vitriol and nastyness over something that I'm sure was only meant as a bit of fun.

    And people wonder why we can't have nice things.

  1. John Casillo's Avatar John Casillo


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