Last week I told you about the Celtic origins of Halloween but there was an important story that I forgot to pass on to you. It is the story of the jack-o’-lantern. Like Halloween, you can thank the Celts for the glowing pumpkins and for a gentleman by the name of Stingy Jack.
Jack was an alcoholic, a crook and a liar and he was known for the mischievous pranks that he would play around the community in which he lived. On particular All-Hallows Eve, Jack set his mark on the Devil. Jack talked the Devil into climbing an apple tree and picking a single fruit. While the Devil was up the tree, Jack placed symbols of a cross around the trunk of the tree.
Because the Devil could not pass the signs of the cross, the Devil was stuck so Jack made him a deal. Jack would take down the crosses if the Devil would promised that Jack would not be admitted through the gates of Hell when he died. The deal was struck and Jack and the Devil went along their merry way.
Jack died seven years later. The Devil kept his promise but Jack had not been on good terms with God. Because of his not-so-virtuous life, God would not let him into heaven. As a result, Jack could not cross over and he was doomed to roam the earth as an evil spirit.
Before he returned to Earth, Jack begged the Devil for something to guide his way. He was given an ember and a hollow turnip to act as a lantern. He was dubbed the jack-o’-lantern. People began carving frightening faces and images into turnips and potatoes just to frighten Stingy Jack away.
When the Irish began to immigrate to North America, they discovered pumpkins. They proved to make better jack-o’-lanterns because they were larger and easier to carve.
Halloween is a big celebration here at the Stettler Public Library and luckily for us, it falls on a Saturday this year. Celebrations begin with a special story time at 11:15 a.m. Everybody is welcome to come in their costumes. The day continues when the teens take over at 1 p.m. There will be pumpkin carving, a poetry slam, bobbing for apples and other games but the key feature is the Fear Factor Feed Off. On the menu this year is snot-filled blood clots, ogre eyeballs, blood clot beverage, chocolate-covered cockroaches and severed toes. The Teen Halloween Celebration is to go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m and everybody is invited to come dressed in their costumes.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at 403-742-2292 or check us out on the internet at http://spl.prl.ab.ca.