Jack-O-Lantern, No Longer a Tradition?


A spooky display of Jack-O-Lanterns, photos taken by Sara Ottomano.

By Sara Ottomano.

The fondest memories of Halloween belong to the candy, costumes, and gushy seed mush that comes out of a carved pumpkin.  This Halloween, a cross section of the Hopkinton Spring area reveals a shocking result; electricity, plastic, and air have somehow replaced the traditional jack-o-lantern.  The answer to why this is so, boils down to several resources that are crucial in everyday life, time, money, and effort.  With the addition of 40-50 mph winds, the lack-o-lantern tradition has been snuffed out.

To be fair, of the thirty houses visited; seven had carved pumpkins, two had painted pumpkins, four had electronic pumpkins, six had pumpkins that were not carved, and twelve had no pumpkinsat all. The carved pumpkins had a variety of designs but most were deviations from the classic jack-o-lantern face.  One particularly creative pumpkin sported the Red Sox logo, accompianied with one carved as a carriage fit for Cinderella.

The tradition of pumpkin carving originated in North America brought over from Ireland during the late 1800’s. The story that follows the tradition involved a greedy man named Jack who tricks the Devil into not taking his soul. When he eventually dies, he is too sinful to go to heaven but the Devil cannot take his soul resulting in a restless state.  The Devil gave him an everlasting ember from the underworld to mock his situation. Jack then carved out a pumpkin and using it as a lantern, he supposedly wanders the world looking for a resting place. On Halloween people carve out pumpkins to deter Jack and other evil spirits.

This year, with pumpkins ranging in prices with the average around 10 dollars, the price of every family member having a pumpkin, has added up. The high price and possibly the lack of time in this fast-paced world equaled a drop-off in the number of carved pumpkins this year. Hopefully with an economic rebound, next year’s numbers will reflect in a re-kindling in this age old tradition.

For a more detailed history on the jack-o-lantern, visit http://pumpkinnook.com/facts/jack.htm

“History of the Jack O’Lantern .” PumpkinNook (2008): n. pag. Web. 3 Nov 2009. http://pumpkinnook.com/facts/jack.htm.