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**Etymology and History**:
– The term ‘jack-o-lantern’ originated in English folklore in the 17th century.
– Initially referred to ignis fatuus, it later came to signify a lantern carved from turnips or pumpkins.
– The custom of making jack-o-lanterns began in Ireland and Britain, with turnips and mangel wurzels being used in the 19th century.
– Lanterns were used symbolically to represent spirits, ward off evil, or honor Christian souls.

**Cultural Origins and Folklore**:
– The carving of vegetables, particularly turnips and pumpkins, is believed to have started in Ireland and Britain.
Halloween, associated with the festival of Samhain, saw the making of jack-o-lanterns in Somerset, England during the 19th century.
– Folktales, like the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, and superstitions tied jack-o-lanterns to warding off evil spirits and the undead.
– Various folklore adaptations, including the Headless Horseman with a jack-o-lantern, have been popularized in Western culture.

**American Influence**:
– The term ‘jack-o-lantern’ was applied to carved pumpkins in American English in 1837.
– Carved pumpkins became associated with the harvest season in the U.S., with mentions in Thanksgiving articles and poems.
– The tradition of jack-o-lanterns being a symbol of Halloween was solidified in America during the 19th century.

**Pumpkin Craft and World Records**:
– Jack-o-lanterns are typically made by carving faces into pumpkins or turnips, with various expressions like cheerful, scary, or comical.
– World records for the most lit jack-o-lanterns have been set in places like Keene, New Hampshire, and Boston, Massachusetts.
– The craft of making jack-o-lanterns has evolved into a popular activity during Halloween season, with communities competing for records.

**Related Topics and External Links**:
– Jack-o-lanterns have connections to various folklore figures, cultural practices like apple dolls, and superstitions like warding off vampires.
– External links provide additional resources on the history, origins, and types of pumpkins associated with jack-o-lanterns.
– Scholarly works, historical records, and media sources offer insights into the significance and evolution of jack-o-lantern traditions.

Jack-o'-lantern (Wikipedia)

A jack-o'-lantern (or jack o'lantern) is a carved lantern, most commonly made from a pumpkin, or formerly a root vegetable such as a mangelwurzel, rutabaga or turnip. Jack-o'-lanterns are associated with the Halloween holiday. Its name comes from the phenomenon of strange lights flickering over peat bogs, called jack-o'-lanterns (also known as, will-o'-the-wisps). It is suggested that the name also has ties to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a drunkard who bargains with Satan and is doomed to roam the Earth with only a hollowed turnip to light his way.

A traditional American jack-o'-lantern, made from a pumpkin, lit from within by a candle.
A jack-o'-lantern in the shape of the Wikipedia logo.

Jack-o'-lanterns carved from pumpkins are a yearly Halloween tradition that developed in the United States when Irish, Cornish, Scottish and other Celtic influenced immigrants brought their root vegetable carving traditions with them. It is common to see jack-o'-lanterns used as external and interior decorations prior to and on Halloween.

To make a jack-o'-lantern, the top of a pumpkin is cut off to form a lid, the inside flesh is scooped out, and an image—usually a "scary" or "funny" face—is carved out of the rind exposing the hollow interior. A light source, traditionally a candle flame or tealight, is placed within before the lid is closed. Artificial jack-o'-lanterns with electric lights are also marketed.

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