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The origin of the Halloween pumpkin, or also known as the Jack O’Lantern story, is found in Celtic Ireland and it has always been involved in myths, the same ones that left the festival that we currently have, although in that European country, it is known as Samhain.
The Samhain holiday marks the end of the Celtic year and is a night when the deceased return to their former homes., and other vengeful spirits and evil fairies roam the Earth; but… Why is it customary to use pumpkins?
The origin of the pumpkin and Jack O’Lantern
The origin of the Halloween pumpkin it can be found in an old legend, which tells the story of a young blacksmith named Jack O’Lantern.
This legend tells that precisely on one night in Samhain, a man reputed to be a swindler, drunkard and cheater, known as Jack “the Stingy”, had the misfortune to meet the devil.
The devil had heard of Jack’s bad deeds and his ability to cheat even the cleverest. Jealous that someone could get over him, determined to verify the truth of the gossip and if Jack lived up to his reputation and if so, take his soul to hell.
That night, as usual, Jack had had too much to drink and was very drunk, when he encountered a mysterious figure in the middle of the road.
But even while under the influence of alcohol, Jack realized that this being was the devil, and that he had come to claim his soul.
Finding himself trapped, Jack made one last wish of the devil in exchange for his soul; this wish was simply one last drink of beer.
The devil saw no reason to refuse his demand, so he accompanied him to a tavern and let him drink his fill.
When it was time to pay, Jack tricked the devil, convincing him to become a silver coin with which he would settle the debt in the tavern, before accompanying him to hell.
But Jack had no intention of giving her his soul, so he decided to keep the coin by putting it in his pocket.
The devil, knowing there was no way to escape, had to promise Jack that he would not try to take his soul for the next ten years.
Ten years later, Jack and the devil met in a forest to pay off their debt.
The devil was willing to take his soul with him, but Jack still had no intention of giving it to him so he quickly thought of a new plan saying to the devil: “As a last wish … could you please take that apple down from that tree?”
The devil thought he was losing nothing, and in one leap he reached the top of the tree, but before the devil knew it, Jack quickly marked a cross in the bark of the tree.
Then the devil could not come down for fear of the religious image. Jack forced him, once again, to promise never to ask for his soul again. The devil had no choice but to accept.
However, Jack died a few years later, but since all his life he had been a drunkard and a con man, he could not enter heaven, but he could not enter hell either, since he had deceived the devil and his soul only belonged to him. the same.
Jack had no choice but to take the road back; the devil threw a burning coal at Jack from hell, so that he could guide himself in the dark.
Jack took the burning coal and put it in a turnip he had emptied so it wouldn’t blow out in the wind. Thereafter, turnips o Pumpkins on Halloween are known as Jack’s scary lamp..
Pumpkins in modernity
Today, this tradition has other connotations; It was believed that in order for unwanted guests to enter their homes on Samhain, the Celts created threatening faces out of turnips and left them on their doorsteps.
Adding a lit candle to the cupped face gave it extra protection. In modern times, pumpkins, rather than turnips, perform the same functions. They are considerably easier to carve and much larger, but they really are not originally from Ireland.
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