The association of "Jack 'o Lantern" with Halloween, originates, in all
probability, from an old Irish legend. The legend goes back hundreds of years in
Irish History. It is still believed in many parts of Ireland.
The legend tells of Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer. The man was a heavy drunkard
and he spent most of his day in a local tavern. Because of this, he was known
all around as “Stingy Jack”. Stingy Jack was a truly a wretched fellow. He liked
to play tricks on everyone including his family and friends and also his mother.
Everyone was irritated with his wicked ways, but nobody resisted him for no one
really liked to cross his path.
But this made him so bold that one day he went to trick even the Devil himself.
It was a fine spring morning. Jack was on his way to the tavern, when he felt
hungry. But he was walking through the woods and who would give him anything to
eat? He looked up. He looked at his left. He looked at his right.
“ Oh, nothing to eat!” cried Jack, “nothing at all…”
Suddenly an apple tree came to his sight. “Food at last” thought Jack. But the
apples were high above. How could he get them? He scratched his head to find a
“ I can get them for you if you like.”
Startled, Jack looked back to find a cloaked figure standing at some distance
behind him. Nothing was visible of the man save his gleaming eyes and his feet.
Jack felt his hair rise above his head as he found that the feet of the man were
turned backwards. This man can only be the…
The man laughed as if he understood his mind. He said, “ I’ll give you anything,
if you promise me to give to me your soul after you die.”
So this was the devil. And he promised to give anything to Jack for getting his
soul. Jack could have easily declined his offer and go his own way. But his
wicked mind suddenly started to work its wicked ways. Jack had a plan. He smiled
in his mind.
“I agree,” said he, “ but first get me the apples from that tree. Will you
The Devil smiled in contentment and started to climb the tree. . Once the Devil
climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly got out his crosses which he
wore around his neck and placed them around the trunk of the tree. IT WORKED.
The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. He cried to Jack from the top.
“Why did you do this? Let me go!”
But Jack would not. And that day he made the Devil promise him not to take his
soul when he died. Once the devil promised that, Stingy Jack removed the crosses
and let the Devil down. He was happy. Now he could go on with all his wicked
ways, without the fear of going to hell. He was special. He indulged in all
kinds of roguery and deceit without anything to worry about.
But his plan backfired. Many years later, Jack died, as all living beings do.
He went to the pearly gates of Heaven only to find the gates closed for him.
“Let me in” cried he. But no one answered him.
Then the gates opened and a godly man came out. He was Saint Peter. He looked at
Jack in contempt and said,
You can never get inside. All the while that you lived, you were too mean and
too cruel. You had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. So go now. Go to
Hell. There is no place for you in Heaven.”
Shattered, Jack went to Hell. There he met Devil once more. He told everything
to him and requested him to take his soul.
But the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from Hell
“You made me promise. How can I break it?” replied the Devil. “You were smart
enough to fool me. Now find for yourself where to go.”
Now, Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he
had no light. He began to cry.
The Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the
flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his pumpkins (which was his favourite
food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a
resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or Jack-o'-Lantern.