The Haunting History of Jack

23 10 2011

Jack, an Irish blacksmith, had the misfortune of running into the Devil in a pub on Halloween.  The Devil thought Jack was easy prey, but the clever trickster made a bargain with the Devil.  In exchange for one last drink, Jack offered up his soul.  Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to pay.  The Devil changed his form to make payment, but Jack pocketed the coin in a bag with a silver cross. Jack knew that the cross would prevent the Devil from changing back.

Once in his purse, Jack only freed the Devil after he agreed not to claim his soul for ten years. Ten years later, the Devil met Jack walking on a country road and told him that he was there to collect his soul.  Jack asked the Devil if he would first climb an apple tree and get him an apple.  The Devil, having nothing to lose, climbed the tree, but as he reached for the apple, Jack pulled out his knife and carved the sign of the cross in the tree’s trunk. The Devil was unable to come back down until he had agreed never to claim Jack’s soul. Some years later, Jack died and went to Heaven.  But he was dismissed from the gate because he was too much of a stingy trickster to allow in.

Desperate for a resting place, he went to the Devil. The Devil, true to his word, turned him away. “But where can I go?” pleaded Jack. “Back where you come from,” spoke the Devil. The night was dark and the way was long, and the Devil tossed him a glowing coal from the fire.  Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been doomed to roam the Earth in darkness ever since. The Irish began to refer to his soul and ghostly light as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’ Lantern.”

Nowadays we carve lanterns into pumpkins in the shapes of scary faces to keep the spirits away. Stingy Jack made his lantern out of a turnip, and we made ours out of paper. Watch the slideshow below if you’d like to make your own paper Jack-O-Lantern at home…you want to be ready when all the ghouls come out on Halloween!

Print these out: Pumpkin Printout, Jack-O-Lantern Face CutoutsMore Face Cutouts

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