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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

Jack-O-Lantern part of season's scary traditions

Sunday, October 28, 2007

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Night Flight
Several frightening creatures and myths arose from Halloween. One of them surrounds the creation and existence of the Jack-O-Lantern. According to myth he is a spirit who has been denied entrance into Heaven and Hell and is doomed to wander the earth searching for a place to rest for all eternity.

Commonly identified as Jack, a never-do-well character from Ireland, he was known for his mean, stingy, drunkard, and deceitful ways. One night in a pub Jack nearly drank himself to death. As his spirit began to drift from his body the Devil is appeared to claim his soul. Desperate to live, Jack begged the Devil for one last drink. When the devil agreed, Jack tricked him into assuming the shape of a sixpence with the promise that he could always change back. The Devil agreed and Jack scooped up the sixpence placing it in his wallet which had a cross shaped catch and trapped the Devil. A deal was made to allow Jack one more year of life free from the Devil in exchange for the Devil's freedom.

The next year came with the Devil making his appearance to collect Jack's soul. Once again, Jack outwitted the Devil. He offered to hoist the Devil on his shoulders so he could climb the apple tree snagging the delicious bright red apples for their eating. With the Devil safely in the tree, Jack cared a cross into the trunk with is pocketknife. The Devil ranted and raved for hours finally relenting to give Jack 10 years of peace from the Devil. Jack was not interested and insisted that the Devil promise not to come after his soul ever again.

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Cat's Meow
Jack feeling safe and cocky returned to his mean stingy ways. On the next All Hallows Eve Jack's heart gave out leaving him dead. His spirit sought entrance into Heaven but because of his evil ways on earth, he was denied. Jack then went to the gates of Hell but the Devil reminded Jack of his promise and refused him entry. However, the Devil took pity on Jack and tossed him a burning coal from the fiery depths of hell to light his path. Jack stuffed it into a turnip which became a jack-o'-lantern.

In order to protect oneself from a Jack-O'-Lantern a person needs an object made of iron. In Scottish lore sticking an iron knife in the ground offered protection. Irish lore warns children not to be caught outdoors after dark and if they are then they should wear their jackets inside out. Finally, in America it was believed that flinging oneself to the ground belly first, closing the eyes, plugging one's ears and holding your breath until the Jack-O'-Lantern passed offered protection.

As with all spirits who have been denied a final resting place, Jack has been roaming the earth for centuries with All Hallows Eve being the one night he is seen repeatedly.



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