No Hassle Pumpkins

By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor

The pumpkin is traditionally the central feature in Halloween decorations. Do you know where the tradition came from?

Apparently, it derives from an old Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack”.  If you google his name you will get several sites that will tell you a variation of the story. Here is one from History.com:

“According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

From this myth, the people in Ireland, Scotland and England would carve turnips, beets and potatoes with scary faces to  place outside doors to scare away evil spirits, specifically Stingy Jack. When Immigrants arrived from these countries they brought this tradition to North America. Since pumpkins are native to North America they were used instead, which made for a much better Jack O’Lantern.

Here are some new spins on the old tradition of pumpkins for Halloween:

  Solar Pumpkin –  Definitely a new take on the Jack O’Lantern. Although this can be used all year round, this glass Solar Pumpkin creates accent lighting with the inserted Mason Solar Light Jar. The Mason Jar can be removed giving the glass pumpkin other uses, such as a Halloween candy bowl or part of the Thanksgiving tablescape. Buy on Etsy for $34.50
  No Carve Pumpkins – Tired of the mess and time it takes to carve a pumpkin? Here is the perfect solution. Take all of 60 seconds and insert the character forming metal pieces into the pumpkin. The three options are Cat, Witch or Turkey. Love these! Buy directly from Joyus for $35.00.
  Velvet Pumpkins –  Made with natural stems from squash, gourds and pumpkins, this handmade velvet trio of decorative pumpkins is absolutely stunning! A perfect accent to adorn your dining table (or mantle) throughout the fall. Buy from Hot Skwash for $78.00 which includes shipping.

 

Happy “No-Hassle” Halloween!

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