Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The first jack-o'-lantern was a turnip.


Kind of freaky. I'm told that the origin is based in an Irish folktale about a guy named Jack. It goes something like this...

Jack-o'-Lantern (from Ireland)

A rather nasty man named Jack tricks the Devil into climbing an apple tree.

How do you trick someone into climbing an apple tree? Seriously. I can understand tricking someone into a closet or a cave. But up a tree? Just sayin'.

Jack then carves crosses on the tree so the Devil can't climb down.

Um, dude, jump.

He bargains: I'll set you free if you won't take my soul when I die. The Devil agrees.

Imagine how much mocking the Devil gets back home for this. Picture Beelzebub and Mephistopheles hanging out by the water cooler after a tough day of data entry (in Hell, there's lots of data entry to do), saying, "Did you hear about the Devil getting stuck in that tree? Why didn't that dude jump?"

When Jack dies, he tries to enter Heaven, but he'd been so wicked that St. Peter says no.

I'm thinking Jack's plan had a few flaws...

He then tries to enter Hell, but the Devil keeps his promise and bars his way. Instead, the Devil tosses him a burning ember from the flames of Hell to light his way as he wanders for all eternity.

Aww, that's almost nice. Wait -- how does he catch the ember? Ouch.

Jack places the ember inside a hollowed-out turnip to preserve it, and then he wanders the earth in search of a place to stay. He's wandering still.

Cue the spooky music.

Today people carve jack-o-lanterns to ward away spirits like Jack.

And because no one really knows what else to do with pumpkins. Don't tell me pies. I've seen people bake pumpkin pies. Pumpkin pies are made from canned goop.

Wishing you all a happy Halloween!

(For more fairy tales and folklore with commentary, click here.)

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14 Comments:

At 3:32 AM, Blogger SavyLeartist said...

Ohhhh the turnips scarier than the pumpkin!!

Love the story, and love the water cooler image xD!!

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger Q said...

I love your commentary. As always.

And they use pumpkins becuase turnips are actually edible. You can put them in soup or just cut them into sticks and eat them raw.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger TadMack said...

Hah!

My poor girl. Actual pumpkins, not goop from cans, are used to make pies and soups and breads. I swear.

I think turnips are inedible and are perfectly useful to light up and keep Jack away.

 
At 8:46 PM, Blogger Djiril said...

I always wondered at the fact that he tried to get into hell. Most people I know of who are concerned about hell consider it to be a place of eternal torment and the worst place that one could possibly be, but in this story it is presented as a better option than having no place to go at all.

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger SavyLeartist said...

Oh, wooow Sarah!!! I guess what I found out!! On Myth Busters, they were trying different trechniques from breaking out of jail: bed sheets, toilet paper, and hair (because one of them though of Repunzel) So I immediatly thought of you-and guess what--with about 50 thick ponytails of hair (I think) briaded into a rope like technique you can scale a 140 ft wall-It's true!!!

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

SavyLeartist: That's so cool! I wish I'd seen it! Did they actually reference Rapunzel? Did they use human hair? They should do a whole fairy-tale themed episode where they bust a bunch of fairy-tale-related ideas. That would be awesome.

Q: Bleck. Turnips. I think I prefer brussel sprouts. Turnips taste bitter to me. And turnip pie just doesn't sound nearly as appealling...

TadMack: I half-convinced that there's some farmer somewhere that raises pumpkin goop... it's extracted by milking the pumpkin like it's a cow or tapping it like it's a maple tree...

Dijiril: Glad you pointed that out -- I thought it was an interesting part of the story too.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger SavyLeartist said...

Yeah, real human hair! it was kinda gross but still. Yeah that'd be cool :D

 
At 7:03 AM, Blogger Mary Lee said...

Well, obviously I'm weeks late for the Halloween story, but luvin' it, nonetheless. (Especially the commentary. Have to come back when I've got more time and read more!)

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Mary Lee: Thanks! Hope you had a happy Halloween!

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Lucas B. said...

I've read a story like this called "The Soldier and Death". These are great! Keep 'um coming!

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Lucas: Thanks! I'll try to do another one soon...

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Charles said...

your story of the origin of jack o'lantern is indeed true and indeed irish. most of our halloween traditions are irish and arrived with the famine irish of the 1840s

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Haiden said...

I feel bad for jack. He seems like a really nice guy

 
At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Beelzebub has a large ego, not many know about him, Luc. makes sure of that

 

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