The Spooky Tale of Stingy Jack

The Spooky Tale of Stingy Jack

Halloween/Samhain has arrived, before I share the Spooky Tale of Stingy Jack I’d like to share some slices of pumpkin wisdom with you. This is my favorite time of year when the green leaves turn into dazzling scarlet and harvest gold. Fiery Mountain Ash show off their orange and gold, wearing their burgundy berries peaking beneath sparse leaves.
Did you know these large orange gourds are fruit? A member of the gourd family Curcurbitacae pepo along with squash, gherkins, cucumbers and melons.
In 2018 Steve Geddes of Boscawen, New Hampshire, grew a great pumpkin weighing in at a whopping 2,528 pounds! That’s a pumpkin that would make Linus from the peanuts gang radiate with glee. According to Guinness World Records on-line,
The largest pumpkin pie weighs 1,678 kg (3,699 lb) and was made by New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers (USA) at New Bremen Pumpkinfest in New Bremen, Ohio, USA, on 25 September 2010. The diameter of the pie was 6 m (20 ft). The crust was made of 440 sheets of dough and the other ingredients were canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.”
Pumpkins are indigenous to North America and the western hemisphere and have been grown there for approximately 5,000 years. Squash was a staple of the Indigenous peoples of North America long before the settlers landed on the East coast. They grew their squash with corn and beans together in a mound non mono culture agriculture. This provided nourishment to each plant. This was called “three sisters” which in modern times several restaurants have been named after. The Indigenous people also would dry peelings from their pumpkin and weave them to make mats. Pumpkin slices were roasted over a fire and eaten as a healthy snack.

Photo of Giant Jack-O-Lantern courtesy of KaysWay


Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Zinc, potassium, tryptophan and more read more at Nutrition and You,
Rutabagas also known as a white turnip, were used in the UK as lanterns during Samhain long before the Pilgrims settled in North America and help create today’s Halloween. To find out the history of the Jack O’ Lantern check out my other blog The Samhain & Halloween Folklore.

There is definitely a Roman Catholic Christian influence behind this spooky tale focusing on the in-between world known as purgatory.  Back in the old days it was a “turn or burn,” message from the Church. The theology considers a soul may become lost in the in-between world or Limbo Land once they die. There could be a reason for it perhaps, the Grim Reaper was having a busy day? Maybe a soul was forgotten?
I compare this to losing one of my socks in the wash, never to be found again. Where did it go? Some believe mischievous fairies may have stolen it or it just happens to vanish into thin air, caused by vibrations of the washing machine catapulted into the nether world. My bet is on the fairies. :)

Note: There are various versions of the Stingy Jack tale so my version may be a bit different from the one you know.

The Spooky Tale of Stingy Jack

Stingy Jack or Old Jack was an old man that enjoyed his booze. Jack was a master of deceit and tricked many a poor folk out of their money or they ended up fitting the bill for Stingy Jack, thus the name.
One evening, Stingy Jack not wanting to pay for his drink, asked the devil himself to share and pay for their drinks at a local tavern. The devil agreed only if Stingy Jack would give his soul to him.
Somehow Jack convinced the devil to transform into a coin so that Stingy Jack could use the coin to pay their tab. The devil figured Stingy Jack was not the sharpest knife in the drawer so he played along and morphed himself into a coin. Once “Old Nick,” (another name for devil) transformed into the coin Jack placed his crucifix along side the coin in his pocket. This would prevent Old Nick from changing back into his devil form and Jack would not have to reward the devil with his soul. Over time Stingy Jack released the devil with one condition, the devil would swear never to harass Jack for one year and if Jack did pass away at some point, the devil would never own Jack’s soul. The deal was sealed!
   One day, Stingy Jack died and when it came time for him to be escorted to heaven or hell Jack was already refused to hell because of his previous deal with the devil. Jack banged upon the pearly gates but was refused by the Christian god to be admitted in due to Jack’s debauched and reckless lifestyle when he was alive. Jack now had a major issue. He was refused entry into Heaven or Hell, destined to wander in limbo in his ghostly form. The devil being the trickster he is, mocked Stingy Jack by tossing an everlasting ember at Jack’s feet. Stingy Jack carved out a rutabaga placing the ever burning ember in it as a light to guide him throughout the in-between world forever seeking his final destination.

The End.


Here is my tasty DIY Pumpkin Spice Coffee recipe I make this time of year.

Makes 1 and a quarter cup of pumpkin spice syrup lasts for 2 weeks

  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan bring it to almost a boil

Whisk together the spices and reduce heat on saucepan

Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes

Take saucepan off burner (make sure to turn the burner off)

Strain puree through a clean cheese cloth or very thin tea towel

Place in sterilized mason jar, then place in refrigerator

Then add a tsp per coffee cup serving or to taste


Have a Happy Halloween and/or Blessed Samhain



Source & Reference:

Featured image in public domain vintage postcard on-line
Old farmer’s Almanac on-line

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Nifty Buckles of Folklore Fun
Nifty Buckles of Folklore Fun

☆Nifty Buckles Sharing Folklore from around the World * Folklore writer & blogger. *Motto: Life is the best teacher. *Always Listen to your spidey sense Nifty Buckles & Folklore Fun posts Copyright © 2017-2025 All Rights Reserved.

Nifty Buckles
Nifty Buckles

Hi! I'm Nifty Buckles of Folklore Fun Folklore Blogger & Fiction Writer. I enjoy write about Folklore from around the world. Follow me on Mastodon @NiftyBuckles

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