The Tale of the Jack-o´lantern…
As the story goes, several centuries ago amongst the myriad of towns and villages in Ireland there lived a drunkard known as “Jack the Smith, or “Stingy Jack” as he´s now known. Jack was known throughout the land as a deceiver, manipulator, and otherwise dreg of society. On one fateful night the Devil overheard the tale of Jack’s evil deeds and silver-tongue. Unconvinced (and envious) of the rumors, the Devil went to find out for himself whether or not Jack lived up to his vile reputation.
Typical of Jack, he was drunk and wandering through the countryside at night when he came upon a body on his cobblestone path; the body with an eerie grimace on its face turned out to be the Devil. Jack in a somber mood realized this was his end, the Devil had finally come to collect his malevolent soul. Jack made a last request: he asked the Devil to let him drink a pint before he departed to hell. The Devil finding no reason not to acquiesce the request took Jack to the local pub and supplied him such a drink. Upon quenching his thirst Jack asked the Devil to pay the tab on the ale, to the Devils surprise. Jack convinced the Devil to change into the silver coin needed to pay the bartender. Shrewdly, Jack stuck the now coin-bound Devil into his pocket, which also contained a crucifix. The Devil, unable to escape his form (bound by the crucifix) agreed to a demand of Jack that his soul be spared for ten years in exchange for the Devil’s freedom.
Exactly ten years senior to the day upon which Jack originally struck his deal, he found himself once again in the presence of the Devil. Just as before, Jack happened upon the Devil and seemingly accepted it was his time to go to Hell, no ifs ands buts or pints about it . As the Devil prepared to take him to the underworld, Jack asked if he could have one apple, with which to feed his starving belly. Foolishly the Devil once again agreed to this last request. As the Devil climbed up the branches of a nearby apple tree, Jack surrounded its base with crucifixes. The Devil, frustrated at the fact that he been entrapped again, demanded his release. As Jack did before, he demanded that his soul never be taken by the Devil into Hell, the Devil agreed and was set free.
Despite eternities dwellings being evaded and otherwise unimportant to Jack, his the drinking and unstable lifestyle eventually caught up with him. Jack died the way he had lived, drunk, sinning and cunning as ever. As Jack’s soul prepared to enter Heaven through its gates he was stopped. He was told that due to the lifestyle he had lead, the life full of deciet, unrepentance, drinking, and sinful behavior, he was not permitted entrance into Heaven. Jack in a dreary state now went and stood before the Gates of Hades and begged for commission into underworld. The Devil, fulfilling his obligation to Jack, could not take his soul; however, out of pity, he gave Jack one single ember. From that day on Jack is doomed to roam the world between the planes of good and evil, with only an ember inside a hollowed Turnip (Jack’s favorite food) to light his way.
God love the Irish.