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Halloween: why has the pumpkin become the symbol of this holiday?

In a minute you will know why the pumpkin has become the symbol of Halloween …

It all starts from an old Irish tale called Jack’O’Lantern. One Halloween, Jack Stingy, a mean and mean drunkard is in a tavern when the Devil appears.

He tries to buy Jack’s soul, who accepts, but in exchange for a nightcap. Satan then turns into a coin to pay the bill. Except that there Jack grabs the coin and slips it into his pocket where there is a silver cross which has the power to paralyze the Devil. Satan is trapped and in exchange for his release, Jack asks him for a 10-year reprieve. The demon accepts and is released. But 10 years later, he returns and Jack succeeds in fooling him again and obtains peace until his death.

But, the Devil will have his revenge. Once dead, his life of debauchery prevents Jack from going to Heaven. He is forced to go to Hell, but Satan, resentful , refuses to open it to him. Jack finds himself then forced to wander until the Last Judgment with a piece of hot coal offered by Satan to light his way . In order not to burn his fingers, he empties a turnip and puts it inside to make a lantern. Not a pumpkin, a turnip! 

And when Irish emigrants land in America in the mid-19th century, they want to continue celebrating Halloween . And there is the problem: in North America, at the time, there were no turnips, it cannot be grown. They therefore decide to fall back on a local vegetable, originating in Mexico: the pumpkin , which then becomes and since the symbol  of Halloween . The turnip will console itself by becoming the symbol of the bad horror movies we watch for Halloween. 

Their origin comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain. When Jack died, God didn’t allow him into heaven, and the Devil didn’t let him into hell, so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity. In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul. When Irish immigrants moved to the U.S., they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins, as these were native to the region.

But how did jack-o’-lanterns become associated with Halloween? Halloween is based on the Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Britain and Ireland that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on November 1. It was believed that during Samhain the souls of those who had died that year traveled to the otherworld and that other souls would return to visit their homes.

In the 8th century CE, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day, a day celebrating the church’s saints, to November 1. This meant that All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) fell on October 31. Traditions from Samhain remained, such as wearing disguises to hide yourself from the souls wandering around your home. The folklore about Stingy Jack was quickly incorporated into Halloween, and we’ve been carving pumpkins—or turnips—ever since.

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