Although it might seem like a stretch to have a holiday themed tattoo, don’t bet on it, especially when it comes to Halloween. Call it our fascination for the spooky or our delight in the devlish but Halloween images have definitely made their way under our skins. Scenes with Jack O’Lanterns, a scary house at night with bats, witches, and ghouls against a full moon are all part of the celebration of a night which used to be known as All Hallows’ Eve. Begun in ancient Britain, it served as the recognized end of summer. It was a time of renewal but also looking backward, as the souls of the dead were believed to pay a visit on this evening. Eventually all manner of ghosts, goblins, black cats, fairies, and demons were thought to be roaming about making trouble for the living.
The Jack O’Lantern, or the pumpkin carved with a face and lit by a candle from inside, is likely the most popular symbol of Halloween, many times appearing as a solo tattoo. Some legends attribute it to a night watchman named Jack while others to a scoundrel who managed to trick the devil and needed a lamp to navigate from hell back to earth. Originally, though, in either version, a candle was placed in a hollowed out turnip. When the custom was transplanted to the United States, the turnip was replaced by the native pumpkin. Today, little scoundrels who go from house to house demanding “trick or treat” are almost always met with the treat but occasionally the mystery and mischief of the holiday revive briefly and they are also startled by a trick.