Wednesday, October 6, 2010

'Tis the Season To Be Spooky

It was inevitable. I was walking this morning with my two grandsons today and we were pumpkin peeping. Lots of neighbors have begun decorating for Halloween with pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows and on a cool, sunny fall day it was a great activity. After nap time, I decided to go to the mall and check out their decorations and this is where it got a bit ugly...Penney's was in the process of putting out their Christmas decorations!

No really, it just gets earlier and earlier. By the time Christmas comes around, these decorations will be old and dusty and we the customers will be so sick of looking at them. I realize most stores do not decorate for Halloween or Thanksgiving but a little restraint is in order!

But sticking to Halloween, I looked up the history of the jack-o-lantern. This information is from a website who edited it from the history channel and of course it's probably folk lore on top of all that but enjoy the tale and resist stringing the popcorn for at least until after Thanksgiving!
People have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns.
More Halloween/Fall decorations coming next week. Meanwhile, if you don't want your inner holiday clock upset, stay away from the malls!

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