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Jack of All Trades: The History of Jack-O’-Lanterns

Jack of All Trades: The History of Jack-O’-Lanterns

October 02, 2023

Ever wondered why pumpkin carving is an intricate part of Halloween? The story goes that the jack-o’-lantern derived from a legend that dates back hundreds of years in Irish history.

According to folklore, a mean-spirited man—Stingy Jack—struck a deal with the devil that he wouldn’t take his soul. However, after he passed, the plan backfired in that Jack was not able to enter Heaven nor Hell, and spent his afterlife wandering around the darkness of the in-between. The devil gave his nemesis an ember for light, and Jack put it in a carved-out turnip to use as a lantern, creating the first jack-o’-lantern.

Every year on All Hallows Eve, the Irish made jack-o’-lanterns by hollowing out turnips, gourds, and potatoes to keep the evil spirit of Stingy Jack at bay. Fast forward to the 1800’s when the Irish immigrated to America, and they discovered that pumpkins were easier (and larger) to carve than the previously used vegetables, resulting in what we now consider to be a jack-o’-lantern.

Although you might not carve pumpkins to keep Stingy Jack’s evil spirit away, your jack-o’-lantern should still be easy on the eyes! Follow the tips below to help you create your masterpiece, and become the envy of your neighborhood.

Tips to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin   
While your carving skills need to be up to par, picking the perfect foundation for your masterpiece is what really matters the most.

  • Find a pumpkin with no visible cuts, bruises, or soft spots. The pumpkin’s flesh should be hard.
  • Take notice of its stem—it should be attached.
  • Try to locate a fully ripe pumpkin (it will be deep orange in color). If you find one that is greenish in color, leave it in a cool dry spot to fully ripen.
  • The taller the pumpkin, the stringier the insides will be, making it more difficult to cut.


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