One of the most common Halloween traditions is to carve a pumpkin to make Jack-o-lanterns. That's probably one of my favorite traditions for Halloween. I'm excited to do that with my kid when it gets closer to Halloween!
Do you know why we carve pumpkins? Where the idea of jack-o-lanterns came from?
The roots of the jack-o-lantern come from Celtic folklore. They tell a tragic tale of a drunken farmer named Jack who tricked the devil, but his trickery resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell after he died. Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip and a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed him from hell.
Jack used the lantern to guide his lost soul; The Celts believed that placing Jack-o'-lanterns outside would help guide lost spirits home when they wander the streets on Halloween. Originally made using a hollowed out turnip with a small candle inside, Jack-o'-lanterns' frightening carved faces also served the purpose of scaring evil spirits away.
When the Irish potato famine of 1846 forced Irish families to flee to North America, the tradition came with them. Since turnips were hard to come by in the states at the time, pumpkins were used as a substitute.