By AL J. Vermette


    By now it’s mid-October and the trees are starting to show their full colorful bloom of foliage, the air is
growing crisp and Halloween is just around the corner. Soon you will be taking that great big pumpkin you
got and cutting into it a spooky face, maybe even a funny one.  But have you ever wondered just why do we
do this strange thing to our pumpkins? The truth is centered around a story from ages past about a man
name Jack who was the model for why we carve out the pumpkin on Halloween.

    Jack was his name and he was a wicked man full of hate and evil intent. In fact, he was a man so bad
that God himself wanted no part of him and vowed that when Jack died, that he would not be let into the
gates of Heaven ever. Jack being the sinful man couldn’t care less for he knew at some point that he would
enter Hell by the Devil’s invite. That was until this wicked man pissed off even the Devil himself by tricking
him in a contest telling them that a Devil could not climb a tree. The Devil giggled and said that he indeed
could climb any tree just a good as anyone else and pointed to one in a grove that he said he would scale.

    Upon his scramble up the tree, the Devil turned, look down and gloated that he indeed could climb a
tree. However when he looked down, he saw that Jack as a wicked prank, placed a large wooden cross at
the foot of the tree. The holy symbol held the Devil in the tree unable to climb down. In his rage, the Devil
vowed that Jack would not ever enter Hell upon his death and wished him to walk forever in a world
between worlds in a never ending void of darkness.

    As time went on, one of the Devil’s demons helped release him from his tree top cage but the Devil
never forgot what Jack did to him and the fool he was made into by the man. In time, this hateful
disgraceful man died and when he did, he was as Heaven that said not to enter its gate. So Jack went to
the opening of Hell itself and asked if he were to enter. As Satan told him upon his entrapment in the tree
“You will never enter my realm and you are to walk the endless void of nothing from now until the end of
time itself.”

    “But how shall I see in this darkness you have banished upon me?” Old Jack questioned as the
darkness over took his mind and soul.

    “With this!” the Devil said handing him a single burning ember from Hell itself of which would never, ever
flicker out.

    Taking the burning amber from Satan, Jack carved out a turnip and placed the amber within. With this
single little light source, Jack would forever more amble along in never ending darkness until the very end
of time.

    The story of Jack of the Lantern has been handed down for endless generations across Europe in
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Italy, Norway, Span and Sweden and although told in slight
variations, the core of the story always has Jack being put out from both Heaven and Hell for he was so
evil that even the Devil himself wanted no part of him.

    Over time, this story of Jack of the Lantern was shorted down to Jack o’ Lantern much in the same way
All Hallows Eve became Halloween. Over time and as this story was brought to the New World, the turnip
was replaced by the pumpkin due to its much larger size and carving a face into it. The spooky grin we cut
into the pumpkin is in fact to scare away evil spirits, something that old Jack would have had to do as he
walked the endless void.

    Today, like so many of our Halloween celebrations, we cut  pumpkin and although many faces and now
pictures and other images are now found cut into pumpkins, it’s the classic scary face that still holds up as
the preferred cut. For what would Halloween be if not for a Jack o’ Lantern sitting just outside our doors
and if not for them…..how many evil spirits would enter your home on Halloween night?
Creature Feature
The Story of Jack o' Lantern