Stingy Jack… and a Happy Halloween

October 31, 2009 · 4 comments

Welcome to the holidays — that seasonal parade of mixed metaphors and symbols galore that begins when the leaves change color and ends when they return as tiny sprouts in the Spring.

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A little of this and a little of that, and how else could it be?

People have been walking the earth for so many millennia and accumulated so many stories and beliefs along the way that no number of holidays could possibly contain them all. So they have to share. Santa Claus with the birth of Jesus. The Easter Bunny with the Resurrection. Cupid with restaurant reservations.

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And then there’s Halloween. Celtic roots with a heaping tablespoon of modern commercialism, plus some religiosity v. paganism stirred in for good measure… oh, and lots of folklore for those who relish such diversions.

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Like the tale of of Stingy Jack, a lazy yet shrewd drunkard who outwitted the devil on his way to immortality as the original Jack-o’-Lantern. As the story goes, Jack built quite a reputation for himself way back when as a deceiver, manipulator, and otherwise dreg of society. The Devil caught wind of  Jack’s evil deeds and silver tongue and, envious of the rumors, he resolved to find out for himself whether or not Jack lived up to his vile reputation.

The two met and Jack ended up tricking and trapping the Devil. With the upper hand, Jack demanded that his soul never be taken into Hell. The Devil agreed and was set free.

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Eventually Jack’s lifestyle took its toll and he died. At the gates of Heaven, St. Peter informed Jack that he couldn’t come in due to his sinful ways. Having nowhere else to go, Jack walked to the doors of Hell and begged for entry into the underworld. Fulfilling his promise, the Devil said no — thereby dooming the silver-tongued drunkard to roam the world between the planes of good and evil with only an ember inside a hollowed pumpkin to light his way.

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Sucks to be Jack.

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Inquring minds wanted to know…

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…and now we do.

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Yet other mysteries persist…

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…like why all the screechy sound effects and scary movies and monsters and skeletons?

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…and why do some Wiccans feel that Halloween’s stereotypical caricatures are offensive to “real witches?” Hmmm.

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Go figure. We’re just in it for the candy.


Department 56 Pumpkin Heads


Department 56 Creepy Pumpkin Street Lights Lights


Halloween Snow Village from Department 56

Special thanks to Stu Jamison for the excellent Halloween props.
You should see how he does Christmas!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen September 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm

The story of Jack is so cool I think I will adapt it to a piece of my art thanks for the bits of folklore!

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Theresa Wellman October 31, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Sure hope you do a Christmas post from Stu Jamison’s display…love the Halloween pics…the skeleton is oddly funny.

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Sandi Fentiman October 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, I heard of the myth behind Jack O’Lantern. Probably thought up to “scare” people into going straight. There is a legend based that’s actually based on a true story; part of the Revolutionary War, in New York. Heard of Legend of the Headless Horseman? It’s also called Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, an actual town since 1996. It was under two other names before that. It’s kind of interesting.

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