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HALLOWEEN: Jack O’Lantern History & Macarons

Jack O Lantern Macarons

Yummy jack o’ lantern macarons from
Williams Sonoma. Here’s the history of
macaroons and macarons
. Photo courtesy
Williams-Sonoma.

 

We love these jack o’lantern macarons, made exclusively for Williams-Sonoma by Dana’s Bakery.

We asked ourself: We know the history of Halloween, but not how the jack o’lantern got its name. So we researched it, and the History Channel provided the answer.

WHERE DID THE JACK O’LANTERN COME FROM?

Pumpkins carved into jack o’ lanterns are an Irish-American tradition. But for centuries before any Irish immigration, jack o’ lanterns were carved from beets, potatoes and turnips and placed in windows of homes in what is now Great Britain, to ward off evil spirits on Halloween.

The jack o’lantern is named after Stingy Jack, a fellow of Irish myth. He invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but was too cheap to pay even for his own drink.

So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin, which Jack would use to buy their refreshments.

 

Jack was not only stingy; he was a cheat. Once the Devil had turned himself into a coin, Jack simply pocketed it. No drinks were had that evening, but Jack was one coin richer. Clever Jack had placed the coin next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

 

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under conditions including that, after Jack died, the Devil would not claim his soul.

When Jack died, however, God would not allow his disreputable soul into heaven. Jack then tried to get into hell. The Devil, who had previously committed not to claim Jack’s soul, would not let him in.

But the Devil was kind enough to send Jack off into the dark with a burning coal to light his way. To carry it, Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip. The spirit of “Jack of the Lantern,” subsequently shortened to “Jack O’Lantern” (and evolving to the lower case jack o’lantern) has been roaming the Earth ever since.

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into potatoes and turnips, and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets were used.

 

Jack O Lantern

The American jack o’lantern. Photo courtesy Burpee.

 

Immigrants brought the jack o’lantern tradition to the U.S., where they discovered that the native pumpkin made the biggest, scariest and best jack-o’-lanterns.

  




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