Will jack-o’-lanterns be a Halloween tradition that survives the apocalypse?
Past: Centuries before the Native Americans introduced pumpkins to puritan societies, the Celts (ancient Irish peoples) were carving gruesome faces into turnips and potatoes and filling them with candles, all in an effort to guide wandering spirits to safety and ward off evil spirits during Samhain.
By the early 1800s, the Irish began telling the story of Stingy Jack, a man cursed to roam the earth for eternity after being rejected entry into both Heaven and Hell.
“As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”https://www.history.com/news/history-of-the-jack-o-lantern-irish-origins
Present: Irish immigrants brought their legend of Stingy Jack with them to the America and replaced turnips with pumpkins, which were big and easier to carve, not mention, the most economical gourds to cultivate, growing almost anywhere with the proper care.
With the commercialization of Halloween, we saw the pumpkin carving grow into a elaborate artistry and jack-o’-lanterns made out of every material substance known to man.
Future: According to an article “Could Humans Grow Food During a Nuclear Winter?” in Discover Magazine from March 2022, any sun-blocking catastrophes, i.e., volcanic eruptions, meteor crashes, or nuclear war would likely reduce sunlight by 40%, causing global permafrost and reducing much need precipitation. A Nuclear disaster would most surely ruin the earth’s soil, at least for a good 5 years or so. Without good sunlight and moderate soil temps, it would probalby be a number of years before survivors could grow fields of pumpkins again, or any food for that matter.
We have already experienced reduced crops in the last few years due to climate change, with soaring temps, severe rain storms in the East, and record-breaking droughts out West. Mini pumpkins, which can grow in controlled environments and small spaces, may be the only variety of pumpkin that survives.
All said, carving jack-o’-lanterns is arguably the oldest and most beloved Halloween tradition. I think as long as there’s a candle or a light, a metal bucket, and one human being left on the planet caring enough about Halloween, the jack-o-lantern will survive.