Irish Legends and Londonderry Pumpkin Carvings

Oct 23, 2011 No Comments by

While apple picking will stop at Londonderry farms, pumpkins of variety will still be available! Both Mack’s Apples and Sunnycrest are reporting pumpkin picking is still on, with tons of pumpkins both on the fields and in the farm stands!

Looking for that perfect Jack O’Lantern pumpkin? Your bound to find one in Londonderry. Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties here in town. Just be sure to wait to carve them until just before Halloween. Carved pumpkins last just around four days in a cold environment, while uncut pumpkins can last for months! Be sure to read on to learn the Irish legend of how the Jack O’Lantern came to be!

Did you know………

  • Pumpkins are made from 90% water?
  • Pumpkins are really squash, which is actually a fruit, but is most commonly used as a vegetable when cooking?
  • Pumpkins were once recommended to cure snake bites and freckles?
  • Pumpkins are grown all over the world, except Antarctica where the climate is too cold?
  • Pumpkin seeds that were found in caves in Mexico were dated back to about 7000 BC?
  • The Native Americans were among the first to grow pumpkins?
  • The Irish began the tradition of carving pumpkins and brought the tradition to America? They originally carved turnips, but once here found that pumpkins were much easier to carve.
  • Our Londonderry roots are the Scotch-Irish settlers who founded the city in 1719? Maybe that’s why pumpkins are so popular in town…..

The Irish Legend of the Jack O’Lantern

According to the legend that goes back hundred’s of years into Irish history, Stingy Jack was a miserable old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone, including his family, friends, and even the Devil. One day he tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. Once the Devil was up the tree, Stingy Jack lined the trunk with crosses. The Devil was unable to climb down. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise not to take his soul when he died. The Devil promised, and Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.

Years later, when Stingy Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven. Jack was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life and that he would not be allowed to enter Heaven. Stingy Jack then went to Hell, but the Devil kept his promise and would not take Jack’s soul.

Stingy Jack then asked the Devil how he was supposed to find his way out of Hell, as it was too dark. The Devil tossed Jack an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Stingy Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out turnip, as turnips were his favorite food and he never missed the opportunity to steal one. From that day on, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way with his Jack O’Lantern.

On All Hallow’s Eve, the Irish hollowed out turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light inside them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. And so began the long tradition of the Jack O’Lantern.


About the author

Jacklynn has been a resident in Londonderry since the age of 5. She grew up in a quiet neighborhood and went through the great school system. She has fond memories of bike riding through town in the spring and summer, sledding in the winter, and apple and pumpkin picking in the fall. She now has children of her own and looks forward to raising them in the same town she enjoyed so much as a youth.
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