The story behind the Jack-O’-Lantern

People have been carving into fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. It’s believed that the Jack-o’-lantern from Halloween began in Ireland back in the 1800s. It is said that those who made lanterns were representing various things in the supernatural as spiritual beings or to keep evil spirits away. It is also thought that the jack-o’-lantern formerly represented Christian souls in purgatory; however, I have found no biblical backing to this.

Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or All Saints Eve is dedicated to remembering the dead. And the superstition of the jack-o-lantern is to keep the dead away. In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, it says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” I don’t think it’s wrong to have pumpkins on your doorstep any more than having a wood carving on your wall. But if you pray to it to keep you safe, it is nothing short of an idol, and God said we should not have any of the kind!

The old folk tale of jack-o-lantern is that Jack stole from some Christian villagers, and as he was getting away, he ran into the devil, who said it was his time to die! But Jack made a deal with the devil to trick the villagers. The devil would turn himself into a coin of silver, which Jack would use to pay back what he had stolen and later the coin would disappear, and the whole village would fight against each other. So the devil jumped in Jack’s wallet only to be trapped because Jack had a cross in his wallet, and Jack said he would let the devil go if he promised never to take Jack’s soul and the devil agreed.

As time moved on and Jack died as a sinner, he couldn’t go to heaven, and the devil would not take his soul. That left Jack with nowhere to go in the darkness. Mockingly, the devil tossed him an ember from the flames of hell that would never burn out. Jack carved out a pumpkin and put the ember inside of it to wander the earth endlessly with the name Jack-o-lantern (Jack of the lantern), as he searches for a place to rest.

Maybe you feel like Jack in this tale? Making a deal with the devil and the Christian villagers chase you out of town and you feel too sinful to go to heaven, but that’s not true. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God! Repent and ask Jesus into your life, turn from your sin and turn to God’s way. This may seem hard to do, but ask God He will help you!

If only Jack had heard what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

By Benjamin Budde

Contributing columnist

The writer is a husband, father, preacher, writer, artist, musician and songwriter. Ben and his wife, Missy, reside with their three sons in St. Marys.