An Irish folk tale is said to have inspired the modern day Jack-O-Lantern. According to legend, a man named Jack — who was something of a cheapskate, a drunkard and a practical joker — convinced the Devil to climb up a tree. Once the Devil was in the tree, Jack surrounded it with crosses, trapping him there. In exchange for removing the crosses so he could get down, Jack made the Devil promise not to take his soul when he died.
However, when Jack died he was denied entrance to heaven because of his stinginess, pranks and drinking. When he tried to get into Hell, the Devil reminded him of their deal and told Jack he was doomed to forever wander through the cold darkness. When Jack complained that he couldn’t see, the Devil tossed him a burning ember from Hell to light his way, which was then placed in a hollowed-out turnip to last longer. Thus, Jack’s Lanterns were born. Because pumpkins grew more bountifully than turnips in America, the tradition eventually evolved into pumpkin lanterns – often carved with spooky or silly faces.