The Jack O’Lantern originated from an Irish myth. In the myth a man named Stringy Jack tricked the Devil to turn into a coin to pay for their drinks but then placed him near a silver cross in his pocket where he couldn’t turn back into the Devil. Stringy Jack then freed the Devil as long as he promised not to bother him for a year. The nexy year Stringy Jack tricked the Devil to climb a tree to pick some fruit but when the Devil was up the tree Jack carved a cross into the trees bark so he could not come back down. When Jack died, legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven, but the Devil, upset by his tricks, wouldnt claim his soul either. Jack was sent off into the dark night with only a burning coal, he placed this into a carved up turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as ‘Jack of the Lantern’, then simply ‘Jack O’Lantern’.
In Ireland and Scotland people carved turnips and potatoes, in England they carved large beets. When immigrants form these countries came to the US they began carving our native fruit, the pumpkin, making perfect jack-o-lanterns.