It’s a little bit of an October treat for you, bookworms, as this month brings two editions of Lil’ Will and Miss Jane. Though we are only a few days away from November, Lil’ Will and Miss Jane simply could not miss out on one of America’s greatest holiday traditions. So in this, the twentieth installment of The Adventures of Lil’ Will and Miss Jane, we embark on a time-honored fall activity: making a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween.
The tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables comes from Ireland and England, which is – no surprise – where our intrepid duo come from as well. Associated almost exclusively with Halloween (and its pagan predecessor Samhain), originally people used turnips for their lanterns. Here in North America, though, where pumpkins are native to the land, we’ve used the bigger, brighter orange gourds .
Though carved vegetable lanterns date back to the earliest days of Irish and English civilization, the term jack-o’-lantern wasn’t first used until 1837. The phrase itself relates back to a will-o’-the-wisp, a ghostly light seen by travelers at night. These days, jack-o’-lanterns are often known for the crazy and sometimes over-the-top designs some people come up with. The Librarian Next Door, not being much of an artist, picked up a book of patterns and held a vote. Lil’ Will wanted the scary (and complicated) ghost trio, but he was out-voted by the LND and Miss Jane, who favored the far easier and friendly looking cat.
Jack-o’-lanterns were originally supposed to ward away evil spirits and vampires, left out as an offering for such spirits so they would leave families and their farms alone. Miss Jane thinks such things are foolish, while Lil’ Will, superstitious Renaissance man that he is, takes this very seriously. When darkness fell and the Librarian Next Door lit the candle inside their jack-o’-lantern, Lil’ Will shrieked like a little girl and even Miss Jane admitted to some goosebumps.
Happy Halloween, bookworms!
This post was inspired by Austenacious’ Jane Austen Action Figure posts. All the credit for the idea goes to them. The Lil’ Will and Miss Jane figures used in this post (and the pictures) are mine.