CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – It’s the most ghoulish night of the year. Children and accompanying parents moving door to door in the creeping dark guided only by the lingering lights of jack-o’-lanterns.

Jack-o’-lanterns have been a national staple of Halloween for centuries, but their origin is far more quaint. It all begins with an Irish myth about a man called “Stingy Jack.”

According to history.com, Stingy Jack had a drink with the Devil. “True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks.” Jack then put the Devil into his pocket next to a silver cross, stopping the Devil from changing back.

Jack made a deal with the Devil, only freeing him if he would not claim Jack’s soul for one year, should he die. Depending on who you ask, Jack tricked the Devil again and again, winning more years, but eventually, Jack died.

God denied Jack a place in heaven, and the Devil, true to his word, did not take Jack into hell. However, he instead cursed Jack to endlessly wander the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack then made a makeshift lantern out of a carved-out turnip and put the coal into it. Thus, he became “Jack of the Lantern,” and eventually, “Jack O’Lantern.”

A jack-o’-lantern in the traditional style. (IrishFireside Photo) (CC BY 2.0)

It became a tradition in Ireland and Scotland for people to carve scary faces into turnips, potatoes and other root vegetables and place them around the house to “frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits.” Due to this practice developing in a dark pre-industrial Ireland, they would also add coals or candles to light them up, guiding those celebrating the Gaelic tradition of Samhain, in which participants went from house to house in search of food and drink. (sound familiar?)

According to carnegiemnh.org, immigrants hoping to escape the 1840s Great Potato Famine brought the jack-o’-lantern tradition with them and found that pumpkins made for much better jack-o’-lanterns.

Now that it’s Halloween and you will no longer need to scare away Stingy Jack, when you’re looking to get rid of your jack-o’-lantern, consider some of these ways to dispose of them in a useful way.