Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jack-O-Lanterns Story

Irish children used to carve out potatoes or turnips and light them for their Halloween gatherings. They commemorated Jack, a shifty Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the Devil wanted him. Rejected by both the sacred and profane, he wandered the world endlessly looking for a place to rest, his only warmth a glittering candle in a rotten turnip.

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The way to make a Jack O' Lantern out of a Pumpkin is to cut off the top and stem, clean out the interior and seeds, hollow out the shell and decorativley carve the pumpkin, usually with shapes of funny or scary looking faces. More recently, different complex designs may be carved by using stencils and special carving instruments. Traditionally a real candle, either a votive candle or tea light is placed inside the Jack O' Lantern to light it up like a Lantern and cast erie shadows all about during Halloween season. If real candles are used, they should never be unsupervised, and a chimney should be carved into the lid to let heat escape.

The term Jack-O-Lantern actually means Night Watchman or Man with a Lantern, with the earliest use in Newfoundland in the mid-17th century, regarding the will-o'-the-wisp type phenomena, rather than a carved Jack O' Lantern. Will O The Wisp refers to ghostly lights that hover over damp ground or bogs in still air during twilight or at night,which looks like a flickering lamp and seems to go away when approached. There are scientific possiblilities for this, but folklore says that it is mischievous spirits of the dead or supernatural beings who try to lead travellers astray, also know as "Corpse Candles" , "Hobby Lanterns", or "Jacky Lanterns". In America, the Carved Pumpkin was also long associated with the harvest season even before it became a popular Halloween emblem. Now the Jack O' Lantern has become one of the most beloved Halloween Icons, with children and adults alike enjoying carving out their Jack O' Lanterns in the most simple and intricate designs.

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