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The History of Jack O'Lanterns

Jack o'lanterns are a sure sign of Halloween, but do you know the history behind them? It turns out that people have been carving jack o’lanterns for quite some time. The practice originates from an Irish myth about “Stingy Jack” – when the mythical man died, he was banished from both Heaven and Hell due to his unsavory behavior. So he became a ghostly figure known as Jack of the Lantern (or simply Jack O’Lantern), doomed to wander the world with only a piece of burning coal inside a carved-out turnip to light his way. In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own version of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and then placing them near windows or doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits, especially around Halloween. (The tradition also spread to England, where large beets were used instead of turnips or potatoes.) When the Irish began to immigrate to the United States, they brought the tradition with them and found that pumpkins (a native fruit) made perfect jack o’lanterns.

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