Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Origin of the Jack O' Lantern

Like all great things, the Jack O' Lantern began its life as an Irish tradition. During the  pre-Christian era, people carried small, hollowed out squashes with them, lit with tapers, as they traveled from house to house on Samhain, or the autumn solstice.  Their purpose was to light the way, as well as inform any wandering spirits that an Irishman was happening past. With the advent of Christianity, the Jack O' Lantern, while still carried in the same manner, became a form of protection, meant to keep spirits at bay and allow good Christian travelers to pass.

When the whole process got to America, no one could find a squash small enough (although I would just like to point out that the butternut squash WOULD have worked). So instead they used pumpkins, and because people were getting tired hauling pumpkins around, they were relegated to the front porch. Thus the Jack O' Lantern as we know it was born.

Currently I have broken with tradition and have a Jack O' Lantern sitting on the dining room table. Charles purchased a small pumpkin at the local farmer's market and spent 45 minutes painstakingly carving the word "Home" into it. We then paid more for a candle then we did for the pumpkin, and lit it. Our plan was to put it on the front porch, but we have both grown rather more attached to it than we intended. So it remains on our table and eats dinner with us. Rather grim, since I have roasted its innards in honey and brown sugar.


  1. Unfortunately I have eaten them all. :(

  2. This is the straw that shall break our friendship, the deed which cannot be undone. ALL THE PUMPKIN SEEDS!!!

    I haven't roasted any myself in quite a while, maybe I'll pony up the $7 and buy a pumpkin for me and roomie to carve.

  3. Did I ever tell you about the time Dave and I experimented and made like 4 batches-- 1 for every seasoning we could find that sounded like it might make a good pumpkin seed covering. Cinnamon sugar won I think in the taste test.

  4. Kinda like eating fish in a Chinese restaurant over top of the Carp pool. We must see a picture of this pumpkin! and the recipe for the pumpkin seeds would be nice as well.

  5. So, I definitely was like "FIVE COMMENTS?!" when I saw this blog post...then realized that 60% were from KT. I will post recipe soon. And I fully agree that the sweet ones are best.