Monday, October 22, 2018

Christian Roots in Jack O'Lanterns? Jolene Navarro

Hello, Jolene Navarro checking in from the Texas Hill Country. This is my view as I sip my tea and write this post.
Texas Hill Country Sunrise from Jolene Navarro's front porch.
Last weekend we had our family Pumpkin Carving Slam. I love Fall, the colors, scents, and flavors. Did you know it has Halloween and Pumpkin carvings have Christian roots?
Family Fall Fun - Jolene Navarro

My sister and I started hosting a pumpkin carving fest with our kids about twenty years ago when they little. One year someone asked why we carved pumpkins? So I did some research. Where does the tradition come from? I’m glad you asked…
Carving Pumpkins - Jolene Navarro

The tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns came to the USA from the way of our Irish immigrants. Did you know that the original Jack-O-Lanterns were carved into beets, turnips & potatoes?
Like most traditions it starts with a myth, a story created to warn children to behave and not play with the devil or you’ll end up like poor “Stingy Jack”.

“Stingy Jack” was an Irish man that loved playing tricks on people and thought he could outsmart the devil. It all started when he invited Mr. Satan to have a drink. 
Jack tricked Satan to turn himself into a coin. Then he left the bar tab unpaid and put the coin in his pocket, next to a silver cross. This, of course, trapped the Devil from changing back.
Laughing at his own trick, he thought he was so smart. He finally made a deal with the Devil. He would free him if Satan vowed he would not claim Jack’s soul for a year.

A year later and bored, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing a tree for a piece of fruit on a top branch. The Devil’s pride once again had him falling for Jack’s ploy. While Satan reached for the fruit, Jack carved a cross into the trunk, trapping the Devil.
This time he made the Devil promise not to bother him for ten years. Before the decade was up though, Jake, drunk fell from his horse and died.
Now the story tells of Jake’s true fate. God, not pleased with how Jack had chosen to spend his life, would not allow him into heaven.

Of course, the Devil had vowed not to claim Jack’s soul, so he was left with nowhere to go. Sent out into the darkness with nothing but a lump of burning coal that he carried in a carved-out turnip. Jack wondered the earth looking for someone to play a trick on.
The Irish refer to him as “Jack of the Lantern” of course being Irish, it became Jack O’Lantern. Throughout Ireland and Scotland families started making their own versions of Jack-O-Lanterns by carving spooky designs into turnips and beets.

When the immigrants arrived at the shores of the new country they shared their stories and traditions. Soon they discovered that the native fruit, pumpkin, made a perfect canvas for the artistic carvings.
Jack-O-Lanterns - Jolene Navarro

Any good story told has a moral, a lesson to learn, so next time you see a Jack-O-Lantern remember that pride will get you in trouble and never try to outsmart the devil. It will always lead to misfortune.
Carving Pumpkins - Jolene Navarro
I love that my life is full of family traditions and get-togethers. So, goes my stories.  My latest release, A LONE STAR CHRISTMAS is full of Thanksgiving and Christmas with a big family in a small town.

The hero Max, comes back to town with two young brothers he just received custody. He doesn't understand family and has no connections to family traditions.  Jackie Bergmann is surrounded by family and might be the one to convince Max to stay home for Christmas...maybe forever.

What are some of your favorite family memories or traditions? Or maybe one you wish you had…it’s not too late to start one.


  1. Jolene, I've never heard this story before. Very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing it. Congrats on the new release. I love the cover.

  2. I love stories or origins. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. Great cover, Jolene. I'm so excited for your Christmas story. And I love your family tradition of pumpkin carving. The pictures are amazing. I've never heard the story of Stingy Jack. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Belle. I love writing holiday stories. <3 <3

  4. Loved the history about the Jack-O-Lanterns. And your carving is lovely, you can come to my house and carve my pumpkin anytime. Happy Halloween!

  5. I tried carving a turnip once at a party. Give me a pumpkin any day! Much easier. Plus, I like roasted pumpkin seeds :)

    1. LOL. I have never tried a turnip. I can't imagine. And yes to roasted pumpkin seeds.

  6. Interesting! Cool pumpkin carvings. I love your cover.


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