EP19 The Welsh Jack-o’-Lantern
The Welsh jack-o’-lantern is far more terrifying than some carved pumpkin.
While the image of a grinning orange vegetable might be a modern-day staple of Halloween, in Wales it was traditionally carved from a swede, and it was known as Jack y Lantern.
This “dreaded ghost” was thought to be a diabolical form of corpse candle that would lure lonely travellers away to a fate worse than death in the dark forests at night. Some say it could even be working in conjunction with the hobgoblins, fairies, or even the Devil himself.
In this eerie episode of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast, MARK REES (author of Ghosts of Wales/ Paranormal Wales etc.) recalls a long-lost real-life encounter from the archives in which a “respectable” man encounters a Welsh jack-o’-lantern one dark lonely night.
In this case he lives to tell the tale, but then he returns to that haunted spot a second time to confirm that his eyes were not deceiving him, and that’s when things get even spookier…
Did you catch last week’s episode of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast?
Listen now: EP18 The History of Halloween: From ancient Celtic festival to American holiday, the origin of jack-o’-lanterns, trick-or-treat & the Welsh Nos Calan Gaeaf in a podcast beaming from Wales to the world.
For a full list of every episode, from the Mari Lwyd to the Mabinogion, and to subscribe, please visit the podcast page.
History of Halloween in Wales: 5 special episodes
October is the Halloween takeover month on the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast, and this Welsh jack-o’-lantern episode is the second of five stand-alone specials.
For a full list of episodes check out the Halloween Specials podcast page.
What is Nos Calan Gaeaf?
In Celtic times, each day began at sunset.
October 31 – Nos Calan Gaeaf in Welsh, the night before Calan Gaeaf – marked the beginning of winter, and while it was a time for celebration, it was also a time of great foreboding and apprehension.
For more about Nos Calan Gaeaf, be sure to subscribe to the Ghosts & Folklore podcast which will be focusing on the festival all through October, and check out the book The A-Z of Curious Wales for lots more weird and wonderful facts.
Did you miss last week’s episode? Catch up now: EP18 The History of Halloween: From ancient Celtic festival to American holiday and the origin of the Welsh Nos Calan Gaeaf.
Read more about Nos Calan Gaeaf, the Welsh jack-o’-lantern and other Welsh curiosities
This tale and many more appears in The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees.
Published by The History Press, here’s the blurb:
Wales’ history is packed with peculiar customs and curious characters. Here you will discover alien landscapes, ancient druids and a Victorian ghost hunter.
Find out why revellers would carry a decorated horse’s skull on a pole door to door at Christmastime, how an eccentric inventor hoped to defeat Hitler with his futuristic ray gun, and why a cursed wall is protected by a global corporation for fear it might destroy a town.
From the folklore surrounding the red dragon on the flag, to the evolution of the song ‘Sosban Fach’, this compendium of weird and wonderful facts will surprise and delight even the most knowledgeable resident or visitor.
It is available from all good bookshops and online from the books page.