Oct 262021

Searching a nearby pumpkin patch for a future jack-o’-lantern stems from a centuries-old Irish tradition.

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PALOS VERDES, CA — If you’re planning to turn your best find at a Palos Verdes area pumpkin patch into a jack-o’-lantern, you may be wondering about the origins of the fall tradition.

Hollowed-out pumpkins, with carved faces and lighted from the inside by candles, can be seen throughout Palos Verdes and across the country during the Halloween season. But the time-honored tradition actually originated in Ireland, with people carving turnips and potatoes rather than pumpkins.

In fact, the name “jack-o’-lantern” comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack, who was said to be a mean-spirited blacksmith who, after tricking the devil, was doomed to spend eternity roaming the Earth with a burning coal for light.

“In Ireland and Scotland, people began making their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits,” History.com wrote.

Irish immigrants brought the tale — and their carving tradition — to America. When they arrived in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they quickly realized that pumpkins were much easier to carve than the vegetables they had been using.

“In Ireland and Scotland, people began making their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits,” History.com wrote.

Irish immigrants brought the tale — and their carving tradition — to America. When they arrived in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they quickly realized that pumpkins were much easier to carve than the vegetables they had been using.

via Patch.com


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