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KUTV.com | Stories -  Good Questions: Why Do We Carve Pumpkins and Call them Jack?
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Questions: Why Do We Carve Pumpkins and Call them Jack?
(KUTV) That pumpkins are seasonally associated with Halloween is not surprising. Pumpkins are everywhere: patches, grocery stores, even crammed into beer bottles. Fall is clearly pumpkin season.

But who got the idea to carve faces into the fruits and then stick a candle inside. According to the Folk Speech of South Cheshire, written by Thomas Darlington in the late 1800s, carving veggies to use as lanterns was something that was done often because it an easy and cheap way to light a road. Darlington writes that in the beginning, they were called "turnip lanterns." The faces, Darlington wrote, began as a prank played by mischievous kids looking to frighten travelers.

Thus began the Jack-o-lantern; which raises another Good Question: why are carved pumpkins named jack? According to lore, it has to do with an evil Irishman man named Stingy Jack. The ghost story goes that Stingy Jack slyly fooled the devil into promising that he would never go to hell no matter how much he sinned. When jack died, as promised, he did not go to hell but found that he could not get into heaven, either. No heaven. No hell. Jack has been wandering the earth ever since with nothing more than a lantern, the Irish tale goes.

If you don't believe in ghost stories, jack-o-lantern can also be traced back to 17th century Britain when it was a common term used for a night watchman when it literally meant, "man with a lantern," according to about.com.

By Matt Gephardt
Edited by Ryan Malavolta
Photography by Brian Morris

(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group) Good Questions: Why Do We Carve Pumpkins and Call them Jack?

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