The custom of the jack-o-lantern came from Ireland and was first made out of holloed out turnips and beets. It was the immigrants to eventually ventured to America that later used the pumpkin and squash. According to the legend, the Jack-O-Lantern derived its name from a man named Jack. He was a mischievous lad who escaped the devil’s attempts to steal his soul on many an occasion. When Jack died, it was said that he could not get into heaven because of his naughty ways. He then went to the gates of hell, and the devil also refused him entrance.
The devil then tossed a piece of coal out to Jack as a jokingly way of offering him a means to find his way in the dark. Yet Jack was not that dumb. He placed the piece of coal into a carved out turnip creating a makeshift lantern which provided him light enough as he wandered about purgatory.
The placing of a light in the hollowed out pumpkins and squash today is a means to ward off the dark or any unwanted spirits. The pumpkin is to be placed at the front door or in any passageway in need of protection or light.
If you would like an extra entry for my Samhain giveaway. Go to the link and post a comment with the word Jack-o-lantern.