Halloween and Jack O’Lantern
DINKtravelers will spook you with this sinister story about pumpkins that will give you goose bumps on this scary night.
The Jack O’Lantern Legend
The legend tells that a long time ago on a Halloween night in Ireland, there was a cheap man named Jack who, one day, met the devil in a tavern. One shot after another he emptied his pockets until he had no money left to pay for his last drink. Therefore, he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for him paying for the last round.
A minute later, the devil turned into a coin, but before the bartender could grab it, Jack took it and put it in his pocket where he was also carrying a crucifix. As soon as he put it away, the devil was trapped and couldn’t go back to his original shape for a long time.
Years later, Jack promised to free the devil provided he didn’t take his soul. Out of options, the demon accepted the man’s proposal. After Jack’s death, he was not deserving of an eternal life among the virtuous neither was he dragged down to hell, so he was condemned to eternally hunt the world of the living. Because he pitied him, the devil gave Jack a piece of coal to help him light his dark path, and so, Jack used a big pumpkin to keep the coal inside so that the light would not blow out.
The Jack O’Lantern Tradition
Inspired by this legend, every Halloween on October 31st, in countries like the United States and some European destinations they have the tradition of carving pumpkins as part of the holiday’s celebrations. These macabre lanterns in which they carve spine-chilling faces are used as ornaments in houses and they’re even registered in contests in which they award the most creative works.
Pumpkins in Día de los Muertos
In Mexico, the pumpkin is an ingredient used to prepare a special dessert (calabaza en tacha) for All Saints Day (November 1st and 2nd), when they serve it as part of the offerings made to the souls that, they believe, visit the living from the afterlife. This seasonal food is also used as a decoration that absorbs odors in the altars that are built and dedicated to the dead during those days.
As a candy, pumpkin is usually boiled with powdered brown sugar and, once cooked, it may be served on a bowl of cold milk that gives it a fresh and juicy touch. Try it and please your sweet tooth!