Happy Halloween! Well, it was yesterday or today or tomorrow depending on where you’re from. Anyway, it’s time to see something freaky. This is a traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Turnips and beets were the popular plants to make Jack-o’-Lanterns out of before pumpkins became available in European supermarkets.
This nineteenth century example is from the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Village, County Mayo, Ireland. The Irish say they got the tradition of Jack-o’-Lanterns because of the deeds of a certain blacksmith named Jack. He managed to trap the Devil through some means (stories vary from fooling him into turning into a coin or climbing a tree and then trapping him with a cross) and in return for freeing him, got the Devil to promise not to put him in Hell.
Once Jack died, Heaven refused to take him and Hell couldn’t take him either, so now he walks the Earth in a Purgatory of his own making. The Devil gave him a bit of a fire in a turnip to help him light his way at night. He’s been called Jack of the Lantern, or Jack-o’-Lantern, ever since.