Tuesday, October 14, 2014
He Smiles In The Dark
Would you let this guy guard your front porch, or be anywhere near your wee ones without so much as a simple background check, or list of references? I thought not.
Well, if you haven't guessed, I've turned my attention to the Jack-o'-lantern in today's blog post.
Pumpkins were not the first vegetable to be carved and disemboweled for use as a lantern. Potatoes, turnips and rutabagas were used to carry coals from house to house. It was probably used during the fires of Samhain, on All Saints Eve, in order to carry the hot coals back to a humble hut for the hearth. Oh, there's a bunch of nice people carrying their coals now...
There are at least a dozen different variations on how, what and who began the tradition of carrying these lit faces, and why. The story of Jack (Jack-o'lantern) are as varied as the pumpkin faces you carve on this large gourd. The story is of a thief that tricks Satan into agreeing to never take his soul. But as it turned out, Jack was too sinful for heaven, and so he was also barred from Hell, and had nowhere to go. He had no light to see, and wondered how he'd find his way. The Devil mockingly gave Jack an ember from the fires of Hell, and tossed it to him. Jack carved a turnip and used it to carry the coal around.
But it wasn't until the Irish settlers came to America and found the plumpness of the native American pumpkin was easily adapted to a perfectly carved face, and carrying coals.
Now, the lowly, gruesome-faced orange gourds have been elevated to something more than just a glowing, weird face to ward off evil. In many a village, and humble lawns, we find the art of pumpkin carving and decorating more than just something to admire. Heck, Halloween has become more on the level with Halloween costume contests. In a nearby town dressed up, painted and carved pumpkins are brought to the courthouse lawn and put into categories and earn prizes and this has been done every Halloween, along with a fare, parade and lots of vendors for at least 50 years. Anything like that around your area? I'd love to hear about it.
The only question left is...
Will you carve a friendly face?...
Or one that really makes you shiver?