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October 23, 2023 31 mins

Jack-o’-lanterns have become one of the most iconic symbols of Halloween. Their origin story isn’t exactly well documented, so tracing their roots involves some folklore, some agriculture, and literary influence. 


  • Bachelor, Blane. “ The twisted transatlantic tale of American jack-o’-lanterns.” National Geographic. Oct. 27, 2020.
  • Ellis, Hurcules. “The Rhyme Book.” Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans. 1851.
  • Fox, Frances. "Waialua Children Use Papaias for Pumkins to Scare on Hallowe'en." Honolulu Advertiser. Oct. 31, 1931.
  • Christofi, N. “BIOASSAYS | Microbial Tests.” Encyclopedia of Analytical Science (Second Edition). Elsevier. 2005. Pages 265-271.
  • “How did the squash get its name?” Library of Congress. Nov. 19, 2019.
  • Lang, Cady. “What Is Samhain? What to Know About the Ancient Pagan Festival That Came Before Halloween.” TIME. Oct. 30, 2018.
  • National Park Service. “The Three Sisters.”
  • “London, Oct. 2.” The Bath Journal. October 4, 1779.
  • “Paris, November 30.” The Freeman’s Journal or The North American Intelligencer. Feb. 15, 1792.
  • “For This Gazette.” The Portland Gazette. Sept. 17, 1798.
  • Gish, Hannah. “Stingy Jack: The Origin of the Jack-O-Lantern.” Carnegie Center for Art & History.
  • Grannan, Cydney. "Why Do We Carve Pumpkins at Halloween?". Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Oct. 2017,
  • Oliveira, Rosane. “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pumpkins.” University of California. Oct. 25, 2018.,food%20staple%20among%20Native%20Americans.
  • “Will-o’-the Wisp: Monstrous Flame or Scientific Phenomenon.” Monstrum. PBS. October 5, 2021.
  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Samhain". Encyclopedia Britannica, 18 Sep. 2023,
  • Irving, Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
  • Allen, Ida Bailey. “Try Jack-o’-Lantern Halloween Supper.” Quad-City Times. Oct. 31, 1952.
  • Huntley, Andrew. “The Jack-o-Lantern’s Origins.” Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
  • Ott, Cindy. “Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.” University of Washington Press. 2013.
  • Traynor, Jessica. “The story of Jack-o’-lantern: ‘If you knew the sufferings of that forsaken craythur.’” Irish Times. Oct. 29, 2019.

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