This Folk Tale Explains Why We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

Okay, you know why you should use pumpkin carving tools instead of a kitchen knife and how to make your jack-o’-lantern last longer. But do you know why we carve pumpkins in the first place? Turns out, we have the Irish to thank for the tradition. Although, using pumpkin is a uniquely American spin.

In a recent issue of Mental Floss, they explain the folk tale that’s behind the carving of fall produce. (It has to do with Satan and an outstanding bar tab.) Basically, the man in the story, Jack — as in Jack-o’-lantern — was forced to wander the Earth for all eternity after tricking the Devil. And he ended up with a lump of burning coal, which he placed in a hollowed-out turnip.

This story goes back to the 1500s, so when American settlers came over they adapted it to the produce that was available, which turned out to be pumpkins.

Read more: Why Do We Carve Pumpkins? from Mental Floss