What Is a Christian Jack-O-Lantern Story?

christian-jack-o-lantern-story Credit: Joe Schablotnik/CC-BY 2.0

A Christian Jack-o-Lantern story is that of the Irish folkloric character of Stingy Jack. In the story, Stingy Jack tricks the Devil several times for his own benefit and consequently is denied admission to Heaven by God and Hell by the Devil. He is forced to roam the Earth for eternity, carrying a hollowed out turnip containing a burning coal for light — hence the name Jack O'Lantern, or "Jack of the Lantern."

The first time Stingy Jack tricks the Devil he asks him to turn into a coin to spend on drinks for them both. After the Devil does so, Jack pockets it next to a silver cross, preventing the Devil from returning to his usual form. After a time, Jack frees the Devil from the coin but only after the Devil agrees not to cause problems for him for a year or claim his soul when he dies.

Stingy Jack plays his second trick the following year. He asks the Devil to climb a tree to pick some fruit, but before the Devil has a chance to climb back down, he carves a cross into the tree. Before allowing the Devil to leave the tree, Jack forces him to agree to another 10 years of truce.