Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hey, y'all, this here is Petronella Nightshade, but most folks call me Punkin. I get that name from my Mama, who has been callin me Punkin ever since I was a young one, and today on The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween we have done started the Countdown To Halloween!!

It is fittin that I am nicknamed Punkin, cause I am on here today to talk about punkins. More specific, I shall be tellin you about jack-o-lanterns and where we get them from.

Y'all know what a jack-o-lantern is, of course. It's a punkin that someone done cut open and carved out the flesh and seeds inside, then they done carved a face in it and put a light inside it so it shines through the holes. Usual it's a candle, but these days one can have an electrical light inside it so that the young ones do not hurt themselves. Also, some folks these days has gotten downright creative and such with punkin carvin, puttin in faces of presidents, famous folk, cartoon characters, and so forth. But once upon a time, jack-o-lantern used to mean a night watchman with a lantern, and then it meant a will-o-the-wisp, which is a glowin light that appears sometimes in bogs or swamps. There is an old Welsh legend that says if you see a will-o-the-wisp, a funeral will soon take place roundabouts, most likely cause some unfortunate soul fell in the bog whilst followin one of these.

But punkin carvin is not new. There is a long tradition, both in England and here in America, of folks hollowin out vegetables for use of a lantern, such as turnips, mangelwurzels (which is a kind of beet) or swedes (rutabagas). But folks didn't start callin them jack-o-lanterns till about 1837, and they didn't start usin them round Halloween until 1866. Usin punkins is mostly an American notion, and punkins was often associated with fall harvest festivals anyhow, plus they were a good deal bigger, which of course makes a better lantern.

There is an old, old story, what they call a folktale, around jack-o-lanterns. It is that one time there was a feller named Jack, who made a deal with the Devil and exchanged his soul for payin off a tab down the pub. Soon the Devil come to collect, but Jack was a kind of tricksy and mischievous feller, and talked the Devil into climbin up an apple tree so's he could get some apples to take into Hell. Well, as soon as the Devil's up the tree Jack whips out a knife and carves a cross into the tree, so he's stuck up there and can't come down. So Jack allows as how he can come down if the Devil will let him go free and never take his soul, and so the Devil lets him go. Now as all the livin do, Jack dies, and of course a feller who's crafty enough to trick the Devil up a tree probly ain't goin to be fitted for angel wings. So since Jack can't go to Heaven, he goes to Hell, but the Devil will of course not let him in because he has sworn not to take Jack's soul, and most likely if Jack was to get into Hell then things would really get warm anyhow. So Jack ain't got nowhere to go, and must wander the Earth for a restin place. He asks for a light to see by, so the Devil gives him an ember from he flames of Hell that won't ever burn out. Jack's favorite food is turnips, so he carves him out one for a lantern and sticks the ember inside it, and so off he goes wanderin the Earth, lookin for a place to rest, and so folks who encountered him started callin him Jack Of The Lantern. So there you go. And so if you make a jack-o-lantern this Halloween, remember that you're takin part in an old tradition, which is all right because old traditions is usual connected with most holidays.

So that is all for me, and may blessings be on you for the Halloween season. Y'all come back tomorrow for more of The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween, and I shall see you then!

Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade