The Jack O'Lantern had its humble beginnings as a Celtic tradition brought to our shores during Ireland's famines of 1820 and 1846 when an estimated one million Scotch-Irish immigrants came to the US.
Back in their homeland, flickering lights in the distance on Halloween night meant the spirit of Stingy Jack was approaching.
He was referred to as Jack of the Lantern and later as Jack O'Lantern.
To protect themselves, people would carve menacing faces in turnips, insert lit candles and place them in windows and in front of their homes to scare off the evil spirit of Stingy Jack and others of his kind.
When the Scotch-Irish immigrants arrived in the US, they found the pumpkin, a native American fruit, made an ideal Jack O'Lantern and turnips were outmoded.
Eventually, more and more Americans adopted the practice of carving and lighting a Jack O'Lantern for All Hallows as the enchantment and fun of Halloween began to spread throughout the country.
In this painting, a young boy who is supposed to be herding the sheep in for the night is spending his time explaining the Jack O'Lantern to his German neighbor while his cat and dog listen with keen interest.
The farm in the painting was inspired by a local farm originally settled by the McNair family in 1843.
The tale of Stingy Jack is one of my favorites - google it for more info or google "Lisa Nelson Art" to find my blog and read my version of the tale.
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