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Halloween Happenings at Buckhorn Inn

Scary Jack-o-lanterns are a common Halloween decoration.

Scary carved faces were intended to keep the spirit of Stingy Jack at bay.

We love celebrating holidays at the Buckhorn Inn–and Halloween is no exception!  Innkeeper Lee Mellor recently conducted a pumpkin carving workshop for our guests.  They made some amazing Jack-o-lanterns!  

The guest Jack-o-lanterns did justice to traditional Halloween themes.

Bats, witches, and ghosts. . . Oh My!

Have you ever wondered from where the tradition of pumpkin-carving came?

A Brief History of Halloween Jack-o-lanterns

It all began with an Irish folktale.  The tale revolves around Stingy Jack, who fooled the devil twice.  When he eventually died, he was too dishonest to go to Heaven.  But the devil had been tricked into promising not to claim his soul.  The devil sent him away from the gates of Hell with a single burning coal to light his way.  Ever resourceful, Jack carved out a turnip to use as a lantern.  In Ireland and England, children would put burning embers in carved turnips, beets, gourds, or potatoes and used them to frighten passers-by.  The glowing vegetables often were placed by the front door of homes in order to scare away the spirit of Stingy Jack.  The use of vegetable lanterns became associated with Samhain, an autumnal Celtic festival that marked the end of the harvest season.

When the Irish, English, and Scots came to the United States, they brought this tradition with them.  Pumpkins, native to South America but long cultivated by Native Americans, became the perfect canvas for creating Jack-0-lanterns.  In the early 1800’s, the celebration of Samhain was replaced by the Halloween traditions we know today.  

If you carve a pumpkin this year, roasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious seasonal snack.  You can find a recipe with several variations at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/pumpkin-seeds-recipe-2105941.

Jack-0-lanterns are one of the most common Halloween decorations.  In legend they keep away evil spirts or guide lost souls home.  But today they serve as a flickering sign of the season.