The Origin of the Jack-o-Lantern -
The Jack-o-Lantern originally comes from Ireland and Scotland, where turnips were used instead of pumpkins. They were often carved with frightening faces that were supposed to represent spirits or goblins because it was believed that Halloween was the time when spirits and fairies are most active. Another belief is that the faces represent souls who are trapped in purgatory.
Jack-o-Lanterns are more than a decoration, they were originally carved with a purpose. A Jack-o-Lantern is said to keep harmful spirits out of your house. They can protect you from the undead on the night when they are most active, this includes vampires. It’s said that a Jack-o-Lantern’s light can reveal if a person is a vampire.
The Jack that Jack-o-Lanterns are named after comes from a 19th century Irish folktale about a lazy thief named Jack who uses a cross to trap the devil. In all versions of the tale Jack meets the devil who says that he has come to take him to hell. How Jack tricks the devil depends on the version of the tale but the most common version is that Jack manages to trick the devil into climbing a tree. Once the devil is up the tree Jack carves a cross into the bark which stops the devil from coming down. Jack tells the devil that he will only let him come down if he swears not to take his soul. The devil gives in and promises to leave Jack alone. Years later Jack grows old and dies, but he was so evil during his lifetime that he is unable to go heaven, and since the devil promised not to take his soul Jack is also barred from hell. Seeing this the devil mockingly gives Jack an ember of light from the flames of hell to light his way while wandering the earth. Jack carved a turnip and placed the ember inside of it before walking the earth forever. He became known as “Jack of the Lantern” or Jack-o-Lantern.