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Monthly Archives: September 2014

  • Why Do We Carve Pumpkins at Halloween?

    Why Do We Carve Pumpkins at Halloween Why Do We Carve Pumpkins at Halloween

    Why do we carve pumpkins every year at Halloween? It seems like a fair enough questions and the easy answer is that we carve them for decoration and to get into the spirit of the holiday. Does that answer the question though? Hardly, and if you or your children have ever wondered about this, read on and find out just exactly why we sit around on Halloween elbow deep in a pumpkin trying to get a candle to stay lit!

    Jack and His Turnip

    The original legend of the Jack-O-Lantern came from Ireland and it states that one day, the devil came to take the soul of a thief name Jack. Jack managed to trick the devil into not ever taking his soul and went about his life doing whatever he wished. When it came time to enter the Pearly Gates, Jack was refused entry because of his evil lifestyle. He then turned to the devil and pleaded to be let into Hell. The devil, who didn’t really like Jack anyway, refused him entry and sent a complaining Jack on his way. He also threw a burning ember after him which Jack fashioned into a lantern using a turnip he found in his pocket (who just keeps turnips in their pockets?). Jack then became known as the Jack of the Lantern, and he was doomed to aimlessly walk the Earth with nowhere to go.

    Swamp Gasses and Lost Souls

    Now, while that sounds like an interesting story and could even make an excellent Halloween party conversation, the scientific explanation as to how this rumor took life could be based on the swamps in Ireland that provide a quite unusual phenomenon. The swamp gasses would interact with the decaying matter giving off a strange light that would seem to vanish as people got closer. Before scientists could explain this phenomenon, locals would claim that it was the trapped souls of the dead who could enter neither heaven nor hell and would often lead you astray. The Irish would then use turnips or beets to create jack-o-lanterns to help ward off these evil presences and keep themselves and their homes safe. Some would create the lanterns as a means of honoring those souls trapped in purgatory, while others would use their mocking faces to scare away evil spirits.

    Whichever story you believe in, you can now say that you know why we carve pumpkins every year at Halloween and maybe even add your own twist on the story for your family’s next pumpkin carving party.

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