The tradition of carving faces into vegetables comes from my homeland Ireland. The Irish brought the Jack O’ Lantern to America. The Jack O’ Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy ole Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. As soon as he did, Stingy Jack Placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Unable to get down the tree, Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died.
When Jack finally died, he went to the gates of Heaven and was told he was too mean and cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell to see the Devil; Unfortunately for Jack the Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave, as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, a favourite of Jacks; he always carried a turnip with him whenever he could steal one. From that day on, Jack roamed the earth without a resting place.
On all Hallow’s eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets and placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Jack away. These were the original Jack O’Lanterns. In the 1800’s when the Irish came to America they discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they started to use pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns.