With all the Halloween festivities going around, and coming from a country like India where Halloween is not part of our culture, I was absolutely clueless about the activities taking place. More or less, it seemed to be like a great time to have a costume party and spook the crap out of others. The festivities seem to have a wide commercial significance with all the super markets and shopping malls going the extreme mile to get ready for just this one day. All I could conclude was that it is has a very strong festive significance in Europe and America with all my friends and colleagues putting their best foot forward to get spooky.
As I was going through the super market the week before Halloween I found that pumpkins have replaced the beer in the first aisle. We all have obviously seen the well crafted pumpkins being used as a part of the celebrations. Well it was about time we know why the pumpkins are actually used.
Primarily Halloween is celebrated on 31st October which is the eve of All Saints Day, hence the name All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints Eve which is also known as Halloween.
The British can claim ownership of the original use of the phrase “jack-o’-lantern.” In the 17th century, it referred to a night watchman, a man who literally carried a lantern. (Jack has been a general term for a boy since the 16th century.) But it was also a nickname for strange, flickering lights seen at night over wetlands or peat bogs and mistaken to be fairies or ghosts. This natural phenomenon is also called ignis fatuus, which means “foolish fire,” and will-o’-the-wisp. (Reference : http://blog.dictionary.com/jack-o-lantern/)
Well I am just trying to find a nice story to origin of the Jack-o’-Lantern. And this is one of the witty ones I found.
“On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack encounters the Devil and tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.” (Reference : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingy_Jack)
This was an Irish folklore where the Jack-o’-Latern primarily represents a soul denied entry from heaven and from hell.