Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vintage Eye Candy part 8...

The Vintage Halloween post cards, below, all show images of Jack O' Lanterns. Not knowing much more than the basic cut, scoop, carve and light aspects of J.O.L.s, I headed to Google to do some research. Here is some of what I learned...

The term Jack of the Lantern first appeared in print in 1750 and referred to a night watchman or a man carrying a lantern. Previous to print, it was used to describe a strange light flickering over the marshes of Ireland. If approached, the light advanced and was always out of reach. The mysterious occurrence is also known as will o' the wisp and ignis fatuus, Gaelic for "foolish fire". However, its legendary status reaches far back into Irish folklore with a story of a stingy drunkard named Jack.

Jack, an Irish blacksmith, had the misfortune of running into the devil in a pub on Halloween. Having had way too much to drink, the evening ended with Jack making a mistake by striking up a deal with the devil.

Many years went by, and Jack passed away; doomed to wander in the darkness alone. He shielded an ember inside of a turnip he'd been eating, creating a lantern. Over time, as the legend goes, his name and lantern became synonymous with a damned soul. The Irish feared souls like Jack's venturing back to the warmth of their previous homes on Halloween, spawning a custom that is carried on today.

Originally, Irish villagers, concerned about the possibility of visits from past occupants, would dress in costume to frighten away ghosts. They also left food outside the door to appease the spirits and carved or painted faces on turnips, potatoes, rutabagas, or beets to place in windows or doors in order to chase away ghosts with the symbol of a damned soul.

The Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800's prompted a massive immigration to the Americas. With the Irish, came their beliefs and traditions, including the use of a Jack O' Lantern. The Irish discovered that turnips were not readily available in the Americas and substituted the vegetable with pumpkins instead.

The Jack O' Lantern is easily the most recognized and used symbol of Halloween in modern age. Not only is it used outside front doors in traditional form, but it's become the veritable treat container for Trick or Treaters.

When I was a child, my Parents took us to pumpkin fields where we'd spend half the day selecting the biggest and best shaped pumpkins we could find! Once we were back home, my job was to draw the faces onto the pumpkins. Then Daddy would cut out the lids and my sister and brother would scoop out the guts. Daddy would then cut the faces out, leaving the pieces barely intact so that us kids could push them out to get the final result. He always made us feel like we'd done the hardest and most important part of Jack O' Lantern carving! Mom was always nearby and ready with candles to be placed inside. When darkness fell, we'd get to go outside and sit on the porch steps as they lit the candles. We'd eat Mom's homemade cookies by the flickering light of our Jack O' Lanterns! Thank You, God, for allowing me to have the most wonderful, magical Parents in the world. What is your favorite Jack O' Lantern memory? God bless...

Until another time... Pearl


mystikal said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and also posting about Ovarian Cancer. Education is the only way to beat this. Love the vintage eye candy..keep it coming lol.

Maree said...

Isn't it neat when pumpkins start popping up everywhere?
Fall is so absolutely, positively lovely!

God blessings!

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh how interesting to learn about Jack and his lantern.

I love your memory of carving the pumpkin. Sounds so story book like.

Oh, to answer your question about the Victorian Tea Socity I belong to, we also hold fund raisers to raise money for the Historical Socity. They are putting on a play next month with the theme being from the 20's.

They also hold Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Christmas Teas for the community and we do all the cooking, serving and decorating.

Plus they go on outings to Tea Houses and other day trips.



Hi Pearl,
I really appreciate your Halloween postcards and stories. I feel that we (christains) get a little too hung up on the dark side of Halloween and forget that we can make it fun. I have good memories of my trick & treatings days. It was fun and the older nieghborhood ladies would make cookies and cider and we would come into their homes and eat the treats. I feel that we can make Halloween fun, like when I was a kid. Thanks for the folk lure also.
Warmly, Deb

Thanks for adding me :)

Connie said...

Just want you to know, sweet chick, that I've truly been enjoying all your halloween "eye candy"! I love all kinds of eye candy.......

Pink Slippers said...
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