Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stingy Jack...the story of Jack o' Lanterns!

Punkin Love...
What is it about the sight of plump pumpkins in an autumn garden that so gladdens the heart?  At summer's end I crave the golds and oranges...the changing colors.  The sky seems bluer and the light of the sun slants golden across the face of the mountains.  In the farmers markets, bins and tables are piled high with pumpkins of every shape and size.

This morning the air was a bit crisper and I got the sudden craving for my mother's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Pumpkin recipes are all over Pinterest...fancy cheesecakes and even Pumpkin Snickerdoodles!  In my sentimental heart, nothing could ever take the place of Mom's cookies.  I shared the recipe last fall when my blog was new.  Stay'll find here again it after the story of "Stingy Jack."

Stingy Jack...
Halloween originated in the Celtic lands of Ireland and Scotland.
The phrase "Jack o' lantern" was first used to describe a mysterious light seen flickering over the marshes at night.  When always seems to be just out of reach.  The phenomenon is also known as "will o' the wisp."
I had always heard that many of our Halloween customs originated in Ireland...especially that of the Jack o' lantern.  So I thought I would find out a little of the history of our pumpkin friend.  I found the legend on Stingy Jack on many websites, but the story on was a little more complete.  The following info is taken from the site...

Vintage Postcard...Scottish?
The Legend of "Stingy Jack"
People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern." 
A traditional Irish turnip jack-o'-lantern from the early 20th century. Scary, isn't it?
From the Museum of Country Life, Ireland.
From the legend of Stingy Jack came the Irish tradition of placing Jack- o'- lanterns made of turnips and other vegetables in windows or by doors on Halloween.  The Jack-o'-lanterns are meant to scare away Stingy Jack and all the other spirits that are said to walk the earth on that night.  It wasn't until the tradition was brought to the United States by immigrants that pumpkins were used to make them.  I read a comment on a blog from Scottish reader who said that until a few years ago, pumpkins weren't as readily available as they are here.  He said that many people still carve faces into turnips on Halloween.  He admits that pumpkins are much easier to carve!

Modern Turnip Jack o' lantern.
Well...that's the story of Jack o'lantern.  I had never heard the story of Stingy Jack.  I have always loved Halloween but never took the time to learn more about it.  There is a lot more information about the Celtic celebration of "Samhain."  It might be fun to do a little more research...after I make my cookies of course!
This is the prettiest pumpkin...makes me want to bake!

Mom's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies...recipe makes a lot!

Mom's Cookie Recipe


1 Cup Butter or Margarine
3 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 16 oz. Can Pumpkin
2 Tsp. Vanilla
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
2 Tsp. Nutmeg
5 Cups Flour
2 Tsp. Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
Nuts and Chocolate Chips (As many as pleases you!)

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen.  If you freeze might be able to enjoy them throughout the fall season.  Take some leaf-peeping! 

P.S. I found some fun fall baking images to keep to the pumpkin theme...enjoy!

Happy Fall...Y'all!



Little Susie Home Maker said...

What a great post, Shirley. I did know that original jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips, but I never heard the tale of Stingy Jack.
Your mom's Pumpkin cookies sound good. I make a pumpkin cookie, but never thought to put chocolate chips in them. i will give your mom's version a try, I bet it is GREAT!

My Vintage Mending said...

Really, pumpkins are amazing. They make this season worth its while...thanks for all the goodies..smiles..Renee

Tammy's in Love said...

This is once again, an educational read! I spent the day with people from England and talked about fall decorations. They don't decorate their homes and children don't get pumpkins to carve for Halloween! I love 'punkin' out the punkin' as we say and well, eating pumpkin scones, or pie or bars with cream cheese frosting? What's not to love about pumpkin!?

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

Cute post! I love pumpkins and JOL's even more! Thanks for all the info Shirley!
Erica :)

LBP said...

I have never heard the tale of Stingy Jack! I did try to carve a jack o lantern out of a turnip once. Mine didn't turn out very good!

Those pumpkin cookies sound delicious! I am making pumpkin snickerdoodle this weekend.. Love my pumpkin!



LBP said...

I have never heard the tale of Stingy Jack! I did try to carve a jack o lantern out of a turnip once. Mine didn't turn out very good!

Those pumpkin cookies sound delicious! I am making pumpkin snickerdoodle this weekend.. Love my pumpkin!



Creative Breathing said...

Shirley, Your haunted mill and witches are are both fabulous. I love how tall your hat is. I had no idea about Stingy Jack, thanks for this fascinating information. All the graphics are also wonderful. Such fun each time I visit here! Elizabeth

vintage grey said...

Wow, so neat to read all the history, and that turnip Jack-o-Lantern is a little creepy. Thanks for sharing such a yummy family recipe!! xo Heather

Perfectly Printed said...

Thanks for sharing the story!!! What a wonderful fall history lesson!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe, sounds like a good one to try this weekend!!



Yum recipe and very cool tins that you showed. Wish I could find some at an estate sale. Stingy Jack is a bit scary!

Chenille Cottage said...

As always, Shirley...You have shared a most fascinating tale! You are a natural historian. So many Americans have Irish roots...and, who would have ever guessed the origin of the Jack-O-Lantern?
Just look at that plate of pumpkin cookies...and, with chocolate chips, too!
Thank you for sharing your recipe...I can't wait to make some up.
Blessings, my sweet friend,

joy said...

I accidentally viewed your blog and I was so amazed with your work that it touched the deepness of my heart. It made me sentimental. Thanks for posting.

Leslie Lim said...

First time I commented in a blog! I really enjoy it. You have an awesome post. Please do more articles like this. I'm gonna come back surely. God bless.