This week: Beware of Stingy JackEdited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Quote for the week:
"When the riddled fields are gathered and gleaned
From the shadow of a killing freeze
And twilights fall to copper moons
That dance with barren trees
When comes the final harvest home
Beneath the silver light
When weary feet tread that dusky road
Jack O'Lantern walks the night"
~From "The Four Jacks"
Written by Arthur Hinds and performed by the band Emerald Rose
Long ago in Ireland, there lived a man who was called Stingy Jack. According to legends, one night, Jack encountered the Devil and offered to buy him a drink. The Devil accepted his offer, but after they had finished their drinks, Jack claimed he had no money. He convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. When the Devil did so, Jack put the coin in his pocket along with a wooden cross that prevented the Devil from escaping.
Jack eventually let the Devil go free, with the promise that he could return in a year and take Jack's soul. However, one year later, when the Devil returned, Jack tricked him again. He asked the Devil to climb a tree to pick some fruit so he could have one last meal. When the Devil had climbed the tree, Jack carved a cross into the trunk so he could not come down. He only let the Devil come down after exacting a promise that when Jack died, he would not take his soul.
When Jack died, God refused to allow him into Heaven because of all his misdeeds. He sent him down to Hell, but because of the Devil's promise not to take his soul, he was not allowed entrance there either. After the way Jack tricked him twice, I'm not sure he still wanted his soul anyway! He sent Jack packing with only one burning coal to light his way in the dark night. Jack placed the coal inside a hollowed out turnip and has wandered the earth ever since. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern," which was shortened to "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland, England, and Scotland, people made their own lanterns by carving faces in hollowed out turnips, potatoes, or large beets. They would place them in windows or on doorsteps to frighten away wandering spirits such as Stingy Jack. Turnips and other root vegetables are small and difficult to carve into a lantern that will hold a candle or other light. When immigrants from the British Isles came to the Americas, they found pumpkins. Pumpkins are larger, easier to carve into Jack O'Lanterns, and they also make great pies!
So when you carve your pumpkin and place it in your window this Halloween, keep an eye out for Stingy Jack. Whatever you do, don't agree to have a drink with him!
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