It is the wonderful time of year when ghosts can be friendly, princesses roam the streets, and candy has no calories.
Unless you’re in college in which case ghosts are ghosts, princesses roam the streets, and beer has no calories.
Meanwhile, you’ve probably been wondering about jack-o’-lanterns. Fear not, kiddo, I am here to provide answers.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Stingy Jack. Jack was a big drinker (did I mention this is an Irish folk tale?), and one day S.J. was out drinking with the Devil. Being a bit devilish himself, Stingy Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. Once the Devil was money, S.J. put the coin into his pocket with a silver cross (to prevent the Devil from un-coining himself).
Fast forward to the negotiation part of the story and Jack promised to free the Devil if he (the Devil) wouldn’t bother him (Jack) for a year and if he (the Devil) agreed that if Jack died he (the Devil) could never clam his (Jack’s) soul.
Deal. (The Devil was not big on being a coin.)
In this story, the Devil wasn’t particular smart and allowed himself to be tricked again by Stingy Jack but that part isn’t very interesting so we’re skipping it.
Eventually, Stingy Jack died. S.J. wasn’t on the guest list for heaven, but the Devil had promised not to take him to hell. Dilemma. Jack was sent to wander around on earth with only a burning coal for light. He (Stingy Jack) put the coal into a turnip as a lantern, which in one fell swoop saved his hands from burning and turned Stingy Jack into Jack of the Lantern or Jack o’ Lantern.
Hence and therefore, the Irish carved scary faced into turnips, beets, potatoes, and the occasional rutabaga to scare off Stingy Jack (or other wandering spirits).
One wonders at the logic of this since it’s not entirely obvious that a person who drank with and outwitted the Devil twice would be the least intimidated by a carved vegetable.