I literally cannot believe it is the end of October already! This month flew by and I feel that I haven’t had any time to actually SIT DOWN and write out a nice long post. That’s what November will be for!
I know it’s cliche, but I wanted to do a post relating to the Celtic feast of Samhain or All Hallowes Eve, or Halloween, whatever version of this long standing tradition you’re into.
I’ve been doing some research and writing for an online company called Holiday Smart, and what they like to do is have us interns pick a country and write about all their holidays. I recently completed Spain (and WOW do they have some holidays. Future post ideas!), and now that the crazy wedding stuff is over, need to finish Ireland. Of all the Halloween-related articles, books, blogs etc. I’ve read over the years, (and since it’s my favorite holiday, there’s a lot!) I somehow never stumbled upon the Irish myth associated with pumpkin carving. I mean, I knew it used to be turnips that were carved in the “Olde Worlde” but not the”wee diddy,” as the Irish would say, associated with it. Here’s what I found:
The yearly tradition of carving a pumpkin actually started with a turnip and a legend in Ireland. The story of Stingy Jack tells of a man who was so mean untrustworthy, he even managed to deceive the Devil. He tricked the Devil into climbing a tree and once up there, placed crosses below so the Devil couldn’t get down until he promised not to take Jack’s soul when he died. Once agreed, he took away the crosses so the Devil could get down.
Years passed and eventually Jack died, and because he was such a horrible person, he was not admitted into heaven, nor would the Devil take his soul, as promised. His doom was to wander the darkness forever, in between Heaven and Hell. When he asked the Devil for a light, he threw him a coal from the fires of Hell, which he promptly put into a hollowed out turnip. The Irish have been carving turnips ever since, in hopes of warding away Jack and any other evil spirits. When the Irish immigrated to America in the 19th century, they brought this tradition with them, and it has been a part of the Halloween celebration ever since.
Now I know that has loads of Catholic morality overtones, but still, I think it is kind of a good story. Just switch out the Devil for a demon/imp/fae and you have a time worn story of don’t be a jerk to people because you will get what’s coming to you no matter what/how/when. That, and, don’t try to out smart a demon. Now that’s a truth I can get behind.