Friday, October 10, 2008

Ever Hear Of Stingy Jack...??

There is an old Irish folk tale that I want to pass on to you this morning. It's the story about an old Irish drunk named Stingy Jack. Now Jack loved to play tricks on everyone...his few friends, his fellow villagers, his family, even his own mother!

One night on his way home from the local pub, Stingy Jack ran into the Devil Himself. The Devil told Jack that it was time to die and he had come to personally escort Jack to Hell. However, Jack managed to trick the Devil into climbing up in an apple tree (no one knows how) and while the Devil was up in the tree, Jack hurried to nail a cross to the base of the tree. This prevented the Devil from getting down from the tree and he was forced to make a deal with Stingy Jack.

All Jack wanted was the promise from the Devil that when he died, the Devil would not take him to Hell. Also, Jack didn't want to die right away, but wanted some more time to drink and party. Reluctantly, Old Nick agreed to the deal and Jack let him down from the tree.

A few weeks later, Stingy Jack died. He walked up to the Pearly Gates of Heaven, but God didn't want to let a person as stingy, mean and as morally corrupt as Jack into Heaven, so Stingy Jack was turned away. With no other choice, Jack made his way down to the gates of Hell. The Devil, however, remembered his promise and refused Stingy Jack entry into Hell as well.

"Where can I go?" Jack said. "Go back to where you came from!" said the Devil. "But it's so dark, how can I find my way?" asked Jack. Jokingly, the Devil threw Stingy Jack an ember from the flames of Hell to use as a light. Stingy Jack took a turnip, his favorite food, out of his pocket and hollowed it out. He then put the ember inside and used the turnip as a lantern to light his way.

From that time on, Stingy Jack was known as Jack of the Lantern...which later became Jack o'lantern. That's right, my friends, the original jack o'lantern was not a pumpkin, but was a turnip or potato or whatever else was available.

When the Irish brought the folktale to America, they found that pumpkins made a good replacement for turnips and were much more plentiful and easier to carve out. Thus was born the modern jack o'lantern as we know it.

Now, my friends, I think I'm ready for some fresh coffee. How about you...?


Baby Sis said...

Good story - never heard that one! Remember the poem of "Little Orpahnt Annie" that Mom used to tell us? I memorized it, and even read it to the kids when I worked in the library - they loved the story, but my accents kinda made it hard for them. Love Halloween - the beginning of the "Holiday Season"!

HermitJim said...

Hey Sis...I had never heard this story until I started doing a little research on pumokin carvings and jack o'lanterns. Interesting how some of our holidays got started, isn't it?

Glad you found your way back here after your cruise...we missed ya. I'll bet that "Lightening" is glad you are home as well!

Thanks for the ya, Sis!

blondie said...

Good story Jim.
I never heard it before either.

Gives me a craving for some pumpkin pie with my coffee though. lol

Later :))

HermitJim said...

Hey Blondie...good to see ya this morning! Now you got me to thinking about pumpkin pie and coffee! This morning I'd like ANY kind of pie with my coffee!

Both my sisters cook a mean pie, and I sure like them being here during what I call the food holidays. They can make the meals so much more interesting, not only with their conversation, but the goodies they bring as well.

Gotta just love the food holidays!

See ya in a bit...

Big Sis said...

Being from a family with a strong Irish heritage, I have heard this story before. I do love the Irish folklore, though.
I, too , wish I could be with y'all during the "food" holidays.
Jason and Leah usually spend Thanksgiving in Tennesse and I should be back at work by then so I have quit cooking just for me.
(Remember how Grandma King used to say if a person had little ears they were a stingy person...or do I have that backwards? I think I have it straight because I remember thinking how generous she must be and was! Loved her dearly and love you, too. Also loved the story this a.m.)

HermitJim said...

Hey "B"...thanks fo stopping by this morning. I do seem to remember the saying about the ears, but I don't remember just how it went.

I can't help but think about Old Settlers reunion when I think of Grandma King. Lots of fun times back then...aren't memories wonderful?

Wish you were here, ya!

Manu said...

Hey you doing?
Been some time again since i posted, but i got quite a bit going on right now (Birthdays mainly). Today i do have some time for you, even though it's not as early as usually. I enjoyed your story today once again, just like all your stories. Halloween is also one of my favorites Holidays :o) I've got already a big pumpkin that's patiently waiting to be carved by my niece and me.

Take care and enjoy the food season,

HermitJim said...

Hey Manu...thanks for the visit. Carving pumpkins can be fun and there are some people that have turned this into an artform. I'll have to see if I can find some pics of the best carved pumpkins and maybe put them on the blog.

Glad to see ya back again...don't be a stranger, ok? See ya...