Jack-o’-lantern and Halloween lantern

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Jack-o’-lantern is primarily an American term for a cherished motif of Halloween. We will examine the meaning of the term jack-o’-lantern, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A jack-o’-lantern is a pumpkin that is hollowed out and traditionally carved with basic facial features, then lit from within to provide spooky atmosphere around Halloween time. In Britain, these decorations are primarily known as Halloween lanterns. An entire industry has emerged to provide pumpkin carvers with templates that produce intricate designs and scenes. The jack-o’-lantern is a Halloween tradition brought to America by the Irish. Originally, Irish Celts carved turnips and other vegetables with faces and lit them by depositing a coal or candle inside. These artifacts were used to frighten away evil spirits. This practice merged into Christian customs observed on the eve of All Saints Day. The term jack-o’-lantern was an old term for the will-o’-the-wisp, a natural phosphorescent light that is sometimes seen in swamps or marshes. A large factor in the popularization of the jack-o’-lantern is the American classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. In the story, a headless horseman terrorizes a cowardly school master, throwing an object that looks like a head but turns out to be a pumpkin. The scene is often depicted in movies and cartoons with a blazing jack-o’-lantern. The o’ in jack-o’-lantern is a contraction of the word of, increasingly the word jack-o’-lantern is seen without the apostrophe. Note that jack-o’-lantern is a hyphenated word, and the word jack is not capitalized. The plural form is jack-o’-lanterns.


If you haven’t already carved your jack-o’-lantern, regional hand specialists say there are a few tips to keep in mind to protect your hands and kids if or when you do. (The Amarillo Globe-News)

Jack-o’-lanterns will be shining bright Tuesday night, but on Wednesday, instead of throwing them in the garbage, the regional district is encouraging a greener approach. (The Kelowna Daily Courier)

The pumpkin hats have a jack-o-lantern face on the front and say “Make America Great Again” on the back. (The Miami Herald)