Halloween is a time when ghosts and goblins rule the night, but at Swan’s Trail Farms it’s also a time for family fun and enjoyment. Every year, thousands of people visit and choose their favorite pumpkin from our patch.
They come together and carve them as a family and set them out on their porch for the world to see. Why do we carve pumpkins for Halloween? Is it just a fun family tradition or is there more to it? We’ll take a look at Jack O’ Lantern’s origins and the traditions surrounding pumpkins on Halloween.
STINGY JACK AND THE JACK O’LANTERN
We can thank the Irish for this Halloween tradition, although it’s a little different than what we know today. According to Irish folklore, Stingy Jack was a man who wasn’t keen on paying for his drinks.
One day, he invited the devil to a local pub to have a few drinks. He convinced the devil to change himself into a coin, so he could use it to buy their drinks. Clever Jack placed the coin into his pocket next to a silver cross, which kept the devil from changing back.
Jack blackmailed the devil asking him to not bother him for a year and the devil could not claim his soul. A year later, the devil came back, but Jack was ready.
He convinced the devil to climb into a tree and pick some fruit. While the devil was up there, Jack carved the sign of the cross into the tree and trapped the devil. He said he wouldn’t let him down unless the devil promised to not bother him for 10 years.
Eventually, Jack died. He went to heaven, but God didn’t want such an unsavory character there. He went to hell and the devil was still mad at him for all the tricks Jack pulled on him through the years. The devil sent Jack into the night to wander for eternity with only a small piece of coal for light.
Jack carved out a turnip and placed the piece of coal into it to create a lamp. He still roams the world with his glowing turnip to this day and the people called him Jack of the Lantern. The tradition of placing a light into a pumpkin comes from this tale.
Immigrants used actual burning coals in the original Jack O’Lanterns, but that’s changed to small candles and now to flashlights and electric lights. It’s much safer and gives you more color options.
WHY DO WE CARVE PUMPKINS FOR HALLOWEEN?
With old Stingy Jack roaming the Irish and Scottish countryside, the superstitious people needed a way to keep him and other spirits from entering their home on All Hallows Eve. They started carving scary faces into turnips and placing a piece of coal inside them to scare off Stingy Jack and the other spirits that roamed on Halloween.
This has been a tradition in Europe for centuries, but when the Irish began migrating to America, they brought the tradition with them. Pumpkins were larger and more readily available than turnips, so they carved them and placed a lump of burning coal inside them.
Today, we may not believe in Jack of the Lantern, but that doesn’t mean the tradition didn’t stick. While pumpkin carving today is a family fun activity, we trace its root back to the unfortunate story of Stingy Jack and his unsavory ways.
HALLOWEEN AND ALL HALLOWS EVE
Jack of the Lantern roams the world for eternity, so why do we only carve pumpkins for Halloween and not throughout the year?
In ancient times in Ireland, the Celts celebrated Samhain. This was a festival to celebrate the harvest and the coming of the dark and cold winter. It was the equivalent of the Celtic New Year.
The Celts didn’t have warm furnaces like we do today or grocery stores where they could buy food. Winter often met starvation and freezing. Many people died during this time and the celts associated death with winter.
Since it represented death, they believed this time was when the veil between the living and dead was at its thinnest. They were able to walk around and cause trouble with people and the crops. It was also when Celtic priests believed they could best divine the future.
People dressed up in costumes and told each other’s fortunes. Fast forward and few hundred years and Rome conquered the Celts and combined some of the Celtic religious festivals with their own.
To supplant the traditional Samhain celebration, the Catholic Church moved All Saint’s Day to celebrate the saints and martyrs to Nov. 1 and named Nov. 2 All Souls Day to celebrate the dead.
All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Day and the day before as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. They still believed the veil between the living and the dead was thin during this time, so that’s why they used Jack O’Lanterns to ward off the spirits.
CREATE YOUR OWN HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS AT SWAN’S TRAIL FARMS
You probably won’t find spirits or ghosts roaming Swan’s Trail Farms, but you will find pumpkins of every shape and size. Moreover, we have a 50-acre pumpkin patch where you can pick the perfect pumpkins to carve and celebrate Halloween.
We also have many different events going on including our corn maze, wagon rides, and more. We also have all kinds of fall decorations available from gourds and corn stalks to hay bales.
Swan’s Trail Farms is about family fun and excitement. We wind down our year with our pumpkin patch and fall decorations, so come out and find out why people consider us one of Washington’s must-see family adventures.
SWAN’S TRAIL FARMS IS OPEN UNTIL OCT 31.
Our pumpkin patch is available for picking from September 26-October 31. Come out and enjoy fresh apple cider, the juiciest apples you’ve ever seen and events and adventures you can’t find anywhere else.
You now know why we carve pumpkins on Halloween, so come out and pick your own. If you want to learn more about what Swan’s Trail Farms has to offer, then please contact us today. We can’t wait to see you.