One last post about Halloween to wrap up the season. The Jack-O-Lantern. I have a pang of guilt. As you will learn in a post to come ( I am making pumpkin cookies!) we did not carve our pumpkins this year. Yay for pumpkin mash but boo for honoring the traditions. So to compensate I will share a little about how that poor mangling of a gourd came about and then… Then it is time to Rhyme.
Irish Halloween Traditions by Emerald Heritage
Interestingly it isn’t just the festival or holiday that originated from Samhain but many of the traditions we still repeat and enjoy today.Bonfires, an important part of the Halloween celebrations, originate from this Celtic festival. During Samhain they were lit to protect and cleanse the community and were also seen as a channel for closer interaction with the world beyond the living.
Trick or Treating, a Halloween pastime celebrated all around the world, was originally called “Souling” and was seen as a method of resembling Gods in an attempt to placate them for the winter months ahead. Instead of sweets some participators received “Soul Cake”, a flattened bread baked with fruit.Pumpkin carving, or the carving of Jack-O-Lanterns as it’s known in the US and Canada, also finds its origins in Samhain although the originals, carved from vegetable or swede, looked slightly creepier than what we have today.
The origin of carving Jack-O-Lanterns is unclear but an old Irish folk tale tells of Jack, a lazy Irish Blacksmith, who tricks the Devil and traps him using a cross and refuses to free him until the Devil agrees not to take his soul when he dies. Upon his death Jack is rejected from both Heaven and Hell but the Devil does throw him a flame that has come directly from Hell and will never extinguish so Jack is forced to carve a lantern out of a turnip that he may find his way as he wanders the Earth for all Eternity.As a result he became known as Jack of the Lantern or Jack-O-Lantern and the tale lives on today.
The Time has Come
I think the time has come to throw
the jack-o’-lantern out,
it smells less like a pumpkin
than it does like sauerkraut.
Its expression is peculiar,
it has lost its friendly grin,
it’s tilting sort of strangely,
and its cheeks are caving in.
Its forehead is collapsing,
and its eyes are heading south,
its nose is now connected
to the middle of its mouth.
I admit it’s been the focus
of some happy family scenes,
but we’ve had that Jack-o’-lantern
for eleven Halloweens.
from “It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles”
by Jack Prelutsky