Why Pumpkin is a Halloween symbol

This unusual holiday intertwined different customs: Celtic traditions of praising the dark forces and the Christian tradition of worshiping the saints.

Origin of Halloween

Halloween has been widely celebrated only in the USA and Canada, but now it is gaining popularity in Europe. This holiday has the Celtic roots. Named after pagan creature Samhain “the night of Samhain” marked the end of harvest season and beginning of winter times. Not surprisingly, now the night of Samhain is celebrated everywhere where the foot of the Celts descendants stepped: England, Ireland, Scotland...

Historical background

History of Halloween reaches the old days. The Celts believed that in evening of October 31, pagan creatures from the world of the dead freely penetrate into the world of the living, doing various mucks. According to their mythology, on the night of Samhain, not only summer was replaced by winter, but day by night, but life by death, and all barriers between the material and supernatural, the world of the living and the world of dead were temporarily erased opening gates to past and future.

The first celebrations were carried out by Celts over a thousand years ago. In the ancient lands of present-day England and the cold parts of France lived the Celtic tribes. These tribes were pagans and worshiped the elements of nature. The most revered god they had was Sun.

The ancient Celts shared a year in two parts - summer and winter. And according to legend, gods represented each part of a year. On November 1, the day when winter changes summer - the prince of darkness Samhain captured the Sun. That night brightness disappeared from the world and dark times came.

The legend of Jack-o'-lantern and Halloween devil

There are many powerful Halloween symbols, but pumpkin remains the main one for a long time.

Pumpkin symbol of celebration came from the Irish legend of Jack – an old farmer, gambler, and strong drink, who on October 31 was sitting in a pub. The devil appeared in front of him and coveted Jack’s immortal soul. The farmer decided to bargain and offered to sell his soul for a mug of beer. But once the devil turned into 6 pence to pay for a drink, a crafty farmer threw money into a valet near to a silver cross.

Because of the magical power of the cross, the Devil could not get out until he promised Jack that he would not come after him for 10 years. When the Devil came back for ten years after the farmer's soul, Jack managed to trick him again asking to get him an apple form an apple tree. When the Devil, climbed a tree to rip off the fruit, the smart farmer cut a cross on the trunk so that the Lord of the Hell could not go down. Jack made Devil promise never to go back for his soul. When the old farmer died, the Lord of Hell did not accept him to the world of dead, throw him coal from hell and sent Jack’s soul to wander around the world.

Jack’s soul hid the alight coal inside the half-eaten turnip so that the wind did not blow out the fire, and with such a lantern began to light its eternal way.

Irish customs

Famous Irish essay typer and historian Charles O'Conor stated thatresidents of Ireland since ancient times believed that ghosts leave their graves on Halloween, so they began to hang "Jack's lights" at the entrance doors so that malicious forces could not get into the house. It was believed that a flashlight made from turnips, as a symbol of a wandering soul, they can frighten ghosts and drive them away from the dwellings.

After the resettlement of the Irish to America, the tradition of celebrating Halloween has also strengthened in this country. But there was not enough turnip on the new continent, but the great harvest of pumpkins, which led to the replacement of one vegetable with another, more affordable and cheaper. Pumpkin jack became an inalienable symbol of Halloween and pumpkin carving turned into exciting activity for kids!