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An Irish tale- Jack O'Lantern

There once was a drunkard named Jack who liked to play tricks on people. He was very very mean. He lived a long, mischievous life.

Once upon a time he got really drunk at the local Pub on All Hallows Eve. As his life began to slip away from him, the Devil came to take his soul. But Jack was very smart.

He begged the Devil: "Let me have just one more beer before you take me to hell".

Satan agreed. Jack was very mean and he didn't have any money on him. He asked the Devil if he'd assume the shape of a sixpence so Jack could trick the landlord (the barman) and after that the Devil could change back to himself.

"I will give the coin to the barman"- said Jack- "then I will leave the pub. And then you'll change back to yourself again and take my soul to hell".

Satan agreed again. Only when he turned into the coin, Jack took it and put into his pocket. The Devil couldn't swing back to his real form, because there was a Holy Cross in the pocket. So Jack was carrying the Satan in his pocket for many, many years. But, one day, the pocket tore and the coin dropped out. The Devil changed back to himself, but Jack managed to escape.

And so, he lived many more years as he used to, spending time on drinking. Finally, Satan came again to grab his soul. It was summer and Jack was picking apples in an orchard.

"Haha! I found you! Now you are mine!"- the Devil laughed.

"I knew you'll find me"
- Jack replied- "But maybe you are hungry? Pick the biggest apple before we go, I suppose there's a long long way to hell".

"You're right. I'll climb the tree and find the apple" the Devil foolishly agreed.

Once he climbed it, Jack took out a knife and carved the image of a Holy Cross in the trunk of the tree. This trapped the Devil up the tree, and Jack was free again! So Satan was sitting, and sitting and sitting up the tree. The tree was getting older, and older and older and after many many years it fell down- Satan was released!
But as the Devil was sitting in the trap, Jack was getting older and older, too.
Soon after the tree fell down Jack's body gave out and he died.

He tried to enter Heaven but was refused entry because of his evil ways. He was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the Devil. The Devil decided to be helpful for once and threw Jack a coal, he said it was to help him find his way in the dark of limbo. Jack put the piece of coal in a hollowed-out turnip. Soon he was known as "Jack of the lantern" or Jack O'Lantern / Jack-O-Lantern. It is said that on All Hallows Eve if you look hard enough you can still see Jack's flame burning dimly as he searches through the darkness for a home.

The use of Jack-O-Lanterns as festival lights for Halloween is a custom that descended form the Irish who used carved out turnips or beets as lanterns. On Halloween these lights represented the souls of the dead. When the Irish immigrated to America they found that pumpkins were far more easier to come by than turnips. The Jack-O-Lantern then became a hollowed-out pumpkin lit with a candle.