2009 - The Year of Valley History
Jack O Lanterns in Tarzana 2009 - Carvings by Brendan Fecht
Centuries ago another name for a demon was a knave.
My parents, long ago in Missouri, used to play a card game called "High Low, Jack and the Game." They called the facecard now commonly called the Jack, the knave.
Since princes in the feudal system were dangerous folk, and always manipulating things to insure their chances at being a king, many evil deeds were done. Thus, Jack became associated with evil itself.
On the eve of All Saints Day (November 1st), the spirits of the dead who had not yet attained salvation, were believed capable of coming from their graves to haunt those who had not prayed for them. These geists or ghosts were spirits of darkness and therefore repelled by the glow of light. Hence, the jack-o-lantern. To give those jacks an additional scare, faces were called on gourds and melons (later on the pumpkins of the New World).
When my son Brendan carved these pumpkins last evening, he was connecting (knowing or not) with his long departed ancestors. Let's hope none of them come calling out "Trick or Treat" this weekend.
On November 2nd and 3rd, many Europeans (and now in places all across the globe) prayed for their departed friends and relatives on All Souls Day (genius for males on Nov.2 ] anima for females on Nov.3) "Indulgence" credits could be used to get one's folks into paradise.
The San Fernando Valley, in the heart of the Creative Capital of the World, deserves a great Museum of history and culture.