Legend of Stingy Jack • The Story of Jack of the Lantern

A jack o' lantern wearing a hat in blue light.

Legend of Stingy Jack • The Story of Jack of the Lantern

Stingy Jack was a drunkard who was known to frequent various villages in Ireland. He was a nuisance with a reputation for being manipulative, deceptive, and general societal runoff.

Satan Hears of Stingy Jack’s Misdeeds

Stories of Stingy Jack’s misdeeds were the everyday talk of the townsfolk, to the point where Satan could not help but overhear a conversation or two in which Jack’s deviant behavior was the focus.

Was Stingy Jack Really As Bad As They Say?

However, Satan was unconvinced that this Stingy Jack could be as vile and manipulative as the legends would have it. Thus he decided to investigate and find out if Stingy Jack lived up to the name he was being given.

A lit jack o' lantern in front of a white picket fence at night.

Stingy Jack Runs into Satan

Stingy Jack, drunk and hobbling through the countryside one day came across a corpse lying on the cobblestone path he was traversing. Upon closer inspection, the corpse revealed itself to be none other than Satan himself.

A Deal with the Devil

He decided to make one final plea to Satan — take Stingy Jack to the local pub so that he could enjoy himself one last bit of ale before his trek into the Underworld. Shock and woe overcame Stingy Jack, as he mournfully realized that if this was Satan, his time had come to an end and Satan was here to harvest his soul.

Stingy Jack Persuades Satan to Transform into a Silver Coin

Satan, feeling quite agreeable today, decided it was a reasonable request so he took Jack to the local pub so that he could enjoy one last drink. A few drinks later at the pub, it was time to pay the tab. Stingy Jack persuaded Satan to pay by suggesting Satan turn himself into a silver coin.

Stingy Jack traps Satan

Satan, a little impressed by Jack’s assertiveness and the boldness of the request did just that. Jack then promptly stuck the silver coin into his pocket which contained a crucifix. Here, Satan found himself in a bit of a predicament — he was now trapped.

Satan Makes A Deal with Stingy Jack for Freedom

Unable to escape, Satan decided to bargain a deal with Stingy Jack: free him from prison, and he would delay coming for Jack’s soul for ten years. Stingy Jack agreed, and Satan was freed.

Stingy Jack’s Bill Comes Due

Like clockwork, ten years later Jack indeed ran into Satan again. He knew what this meant – his borrowed time was now up, and this time his soul was sure to be harvested.

A jack o' lantern draped in faux spiderwebs.

Plotting A New Deception

As Satan was making arraignments to take Jack’s soul, Jack came up with an idea — he would tell Satan he was hungry and request that Satan get him an apple from a nearby apple tree to satiate his hunger before his descent into the Underworld.

Satan Trapped by Stingy Jack Again

Unwittingly, Satan agreed. As he was climbing the apple tree to procure Jack’s apple, Jack quickly surrounded the tree with crucifixes. Again, Satan was trapped.

Stingy Jack Frees Satan on One Condition

Wholly embarrassed, Satan decided to broker another deal with the wily Jack for his freedom. Jack agreed to free Satan, but only on the condition that he never tries to harvest Jack’s soul again. Satan had no choice but to agree.

A jack o' lantern sitting in grass outside at night lit by lights in the background.

Another Demon Claims Stingy Jack’s Soul

However, another demon was coming for Stingy Jack’s soul — the demon of his rampant alcoholism. Jack eventually succumbed to his debilitating addiction it took his life.

God Refuses to Allow Stingy Jack into Heaven

As his soul arrived at St. Peter’s Gate, his entrance into Heaven was curtailed. Not surprisingly, God let Stingy Jack know that because of the sinful, deceitful, alcohol-driven life Jack had led there was no place for Jack in heaven.

A bird's eye view of two jack o' lanterns surrounding by fall leaves and branches.

Stingy Jack Barred from Entering Hell

Barred from Heaven, Stingy Jack tried his luck at the Gates of Hell, but there was a problem — Satan had already agreed not to take Jack’s soul into Hell. Satan had no choice but to fulfill this obligation. Stingy Jack was in a quandary; he could not enter Heaven or Hell. Thus he was stuck traversing the Netherworld for eternity.

The Birth of Jack of the Lantern

To warn others, Satan gave Jack an ember housed in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way throughout the netherworld, as well as warn others that Jack was a permanent citizen of the world between Heaven and Hell. As such, Stingy Jack eventually became known as Jack of the Lantern.

A jack o' lantern near lit candles.

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