Why carving Halloween pumpkins is a tradition. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
The history of Halloween as we know it is based on an ancient Celtic holiday known to honor the deceased. Celts believed that from dusk on October 31 until the dusk of November 1, souls of those who had died that year would pass on, meaning it was also when ghosts would be most present. To ward away evil spirits, people placed carved jack-o’-lanterns on porches and in windows. Their creations were made from carved turnips, beets, or potatoes with burning lumps of coal inside them to add light.
The jack-o’-lantern is believed to have originated from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who played tricks on everyone. When he died, Jack was denied entry into both heaven and hell and was forced to roam the world as a ghost who carried a lantern made from a carved turnip. Today, the pumpkin carving tradition remains synonymous with Halloween.
Listen to Cathy Isom’s This Land of Ours program here.