Hallowe’en is now long gone, but I thought I’d explore some of the meanings of the various symbols of Hallowe’en starting with the “Jack-o-Lantern”.

The pumpkin symbol began long ago in Ireland when the Celts would carve turnips on All Hallow’s Eve. They would place an ember inside the turnip to keep evil spirits at bay.

There were no pumpkins in Ireland, so the pumpkin symbol didn’t become popular until the Irish migrated to America during the potato famine. See our History of Halloween page for more information. At this point the Irish switched from turnips to pumpkins.

The face of the jack-o-lantern: Now you know why the pumpkin is hollowed out and filled with fire, but why do we carve a face on it?

The reason for the face centers around the old Irish story of Stingy Jack. According to the tale, Stingy Jack lived as a drunk Irishman who played tricks on people. During his life, Jack managed to make both God and the Devil angry, so when he died neither heaven nor hell would let him in. He was forced to roam the earth with only a turnip jack-o-lantern to light his way.

Townspeople began placing jack-o-lanterns around their homes to keep Stingy Jack from coming to their door. Check out our 25 Halloween traditions page for more details about celebrating Halloween. (King Halloween).

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

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