Why is the pumpkin the halloween symbol?
If the pumpkin belongs to these fall vegetables, that’s not the only reason it became a halloween symbol on October 31. A look back at the origins of an unknown tradition from an old Irish tale.
At the same time widespread and very old, we end up not knowing how Halloween was born and why it was accompanied by pumpkins as a symbol. A look back at its history, associated with All Saints’ Day, Ireland and a legend.
All Saints’ Day is the feast of all saints, and occurs just before October 31st. In English,”Halloween” would come from the contraction “All Hallows-Even” which means “the eve of all saints“. In the tradition, on the eve of All Saints’ Day, it is therefore advisable to carve a vegetable from the cucurbitaceae family (citrouille, squash, butternut) and to install them in your house or in the alleys of the garden and on the windowsills with, inside, a lantern. All of it creating like monsters in the night, scary for children. But why are we doing this?
An Irish custom from a tale
It all started with the legend of “Jack O’ Lantern”, also known as “Jack with the Lantern”, an Irish tale. In the story, the character is a drunkard and spends his time in taverns until that night when the devil tries to buy his soul. Jack accepts the pact in exchange for one last drink and the devil turns into a coin to pay for that drink. Jack quickly grabs the coin and places it in his pocket, where a silver cross is hidden. The Christian cross paralyzes the devil, trapping him in the pocket. The devil’s going back to hell after Jack asked him for a 10-year reprieve. Ten years later, Jack is surprised again by the devil at the foot of an apple tree. This time he asks for an apple, and the devil climbs up the tree to catch one while Jack engraves a cross on the trunk. This time, Jack won’t be bothered by the devil again until he dies.
Once he’s dead, Jack can’t make it back to heaven for his life of debauchery. The devil doesn’t want him in hell. Convicted to wander through the night until the last judgment, Jack finds a piece of burning coal on his way, which he inserts into a turnip he carved to build himself a glow to see in the darkness. Since then, Jack has been named “Lantern Jack” who would return every day before All Saints’ Day.