Why Do We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween – Story of Jack o’ Lanterns According to an old tale, a drunken farmer named Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter both heaven and hell after his death. His soul wandered in the darkness. He carved out a lantern out of a turnip and coal, to light his way and guide his soul. The Celtics believed in this story of Jack Stingy, so they began to place Jack o’ Lanterns outside their houses. The purpose was to guide lost souls home while they wandered during the Samhain festival eve. Initially, the Jack o’ Lanterns were carved out from potatoes but after the potatoes famine, people began to use pumpkin instead.