This awesomely terrifying monstrosity is one of the world’s oldest surviving jack-o’-lanterns. It was carved from a turnip during the 19th century, but we think it looks like something that could’ve been created by Edmund Blackadder’s faithful Baldrick, known for his love of turnips. It’s currently on display at the Museum of Country Life in County Mayo, Ireland.
According to IrishCentral, Irish folklore claims the custom of carving jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween originated in Ireland, where turnips, mangelwurzel or beets were supposedly used before pumpkins came into play:
As the tale goes, a man called Stingy Jack invited the devil for a drink and convinced him to shape-shift into a coin to pay with. When the devil obliged, Jack decided he wanted the coin for other purposes, and kept it in his pocket beside a small, silver cross to prevent it from turning back into the devil.
Jack eventually freed the devil under the condition that he wouldn’t bother Jack for one year, and wouldn’t claim Jack’s soul once he died. The next year, Jack tricked the devil once more by convincing him to climb up a tree to fetch a piece of fruit. When he was up in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the trunk so the devil couldn’t come down until he swore he wouldn’t bother Stingy Jack for another ten years.
When Jack died, God wouldn’t allow him into heaven and the devil wouldn’t allow him into hell. He was instead sent into the eternal night, with a burning coal inside a carved-out turnip to light his way. He’s been roaming the earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to this spooky figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” which then became “Jack O’Lantern.”
Head over to IrishCentral to learn more about this spooky piece of Halloween history.
If I’m god I don’t want this dude in heaven either, he’s tricksy.