October 17, 2012


Halloween has many different traditions but perhaps one of the most popular ones involves jack-o’-lanterns. The jack-o’-lantern story has many different variations but many are similar.

Stingy Jack was an unsavoury character who often got into trouble, mainly due to drinking. One day the devil appeared to Jack and said it was time for his soul to descend to hell. Jack asked the devil if he could turn into a coin so that Jack could buy one last drink. The devil agreed but Jack did not buy another drink with the coin. Jack took the coin and placed it into his wallet next to a cross, stripping the devil of his powers. The devil screamed out and promised to never come back for Jack’s soul if released. The devil vanished as Jack released him.

Eventually Jack died and his soul was left in limbo. Jack was too wicked to go to heaven and the devil promised Jack that he would not take his soul. This meant that Jack was forced to wonder the earth in search of a place to rest. The devil mocked Jack by giving him an ember that would always burn the flames of hell. Jack placed the ember in a turnip to help light his way.

As this story became popular in North America, the turnip was replaced with a pumpkin. Today we turn pumpkins into jack-o’-lantern to help light Jack’s way on his never-ending journey.
If you would like to learn more about the traditions of Halloween and hear some ghost stories, make sure you visit Old Fort Erie, Fort George and the Drummond Hill Cemetery, among others, for their yearly Halloween tours.

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