THE ‘WILL-O’-THE WISP & the JACK O’ LANTERN – Why we Carve Pumpkins at Halloween…

As Halloween is fast approaching it is time for us to get creative with the Pumpkin carving! At the hotel, we are putting our heads together to think of cool images to carve into the pumpkins – we will also love for you to help us out -what kind of cool imagery do you want us to carve into our own Pumpkin? If you have any ideas please let us know and even better, share your photos of the cool carvings you have created for this occasion!

In this blog we will discover the origins of pumpkin carving and as to why we continue this tradition every year.

THE ‘WILL-O’-THE WISP & the JACK O’ LANTERN Connection
The tradition of carving pumpkin has various origins and the most popular in well known folklore are the stories of The Will-O’-the Wisp and Jack O’ Lantern.
The ‘Will-O’-the Wisp’ was created by a natural phenomena that happens to occur when plants are decaying over Swampy or Peat Bog areas and are in the process producing a Phosphorescence Glow .
During the 18th Century tales of folklore were created to personify this ghostly apparition and tales of Pixies and Sprites were soon born to explain what was happening. The Sprite was said to form wispy flames of light around it and would lead foolish travelers astray by luring them towards the swampy bogs – where ultimately some may have gotten themselves stuck in the dark murky swamps.
In Latin the light is known as “Ignis Fatuus” which translates “foolish fire.” The reference of the name “will-o’-the-wisp” has been extended to any impractical or unattainable goal.

On the subject of the Phosphorescence Glow there are many common occurrences of this that you can see for yourself, materials such as Paints, Glow in the dark toys and Clock dials are all examples of a man made material that presents the Phosphorescence glow processes in opposition to the chemical states happening naturally.

The Jack O’ Lantern is related to the Wisp, but in modern times when we follow this tradition the Lantern seems to be a more common phrase that comes to mind.
The origins of this are from Irish and Scottish Myths and Legendary Folklore that come in various incarnations. In short, the tales usually involves a man ‘Jack’ Who has an undesirable trait wether he be stingy or a thief and has played a trick on the devil which never bodes well for his Soul. As punishment, Jack’s Soul after passing is generally to be found in Limbo as the devil agrees too spare it, yet, unbeknownst to Jack it means the soul cannot be entered into Heaven nor can it be let into Hell in part due to his lifestyle decisions and as well as the experience with the devil itself!!!

The images portrayed into the Pumpkins are of a ghoulish nature for these reasons, and over the years that we have traditionally celebrated the tradition, there have been many pranks played into the custom too – so the evolution of some of these Lanterns portray humorous looking Ghouls and imagery.

Below are some Lanterns that were created with some friends on a Halloween excursion to Seattle…..what do you think of them? Cool eh!

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