Sunday, October 30, 2011
Mischief Night (also known as Devil's Night, Hell Night, Cabbage Night, Gate Night, Mizzy Night, Miggy Night, Goosing Night, and Egg Nyte) is an annual tradition in parts of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, and the United States when people (primarily teenagers and preteens) take a degree of license to play pranks and do mischief in their neighborhoods. The most common date for Mischief Night in North America is October 30, the day before Halloween. However the traditional British Mischief Night is November 4, the night before Bonfire Night, as this was the night Guy Fawkes was in 1605 caught trying to blow up the House of Lords. Devil's Night can have a slightly different meaning and refer specifically to the serious vandalism and arson experienced in Detroit, Michigan during the late 1980s.
The earliest reference to the night is from 1790 when fellows of St John's College, Oxford, studied a headmaster who had encouraged a school play which ended in "an Ode to Fun which praises children's tricks on Mischief Night in most approving terms". The pranks were originally carried as part of the May Day celebrations, but as workers moved into urban areas during the industrial revolution Mischief Night was moved to 4 November, the night before Guy Fawkes Night. In Germany, Mischief Night still is celebrated the night before 1 May. According to one historian "May Day and the Green Man had little resonance for children in grimy cities. They looked at the opposite end of the year and found the ideal time, the night before the gunpowder plot."
he separation of Halloween tricks from treats seems to have only developed sporadically, often appearing in some areas but not at all in others nearby. In Northern New Jersey's Passaic County and Somerset County it is called "Mischief Night". In some towns in Passaic County, Bergen County, Morris County, Sussex County, and parts of New York State, it is known as "Goosey Night". In South Jersey and the Philadelphia region (as well as Westchester County in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut), October 30 is referred to as "Mischief Night," where mischievous teens rub soap bars on car windows, throw eggs at houses, adorn trees with toilet paper, and run away after ringing doorbells. In some areas of Queens, New York, Cabbage Night involved throwing rotten fruit at various neighbors, cars, and buses. Pre-teens and teens would fill eggs with Neet and Nair and throw them at unsuspecting individuals. In the mid-1980s garbage was set on fire and cemeteries were set ablaze. In Camden, New Jersey, Mischief Night had escalated to the point where widespread arsons were committed in the 1990s. Over 130 arsons were committed in that city on the night of October 30, 1991.
It is known as "Gate Night" in Trail, British Columbia, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Nanuet, NY,Valley Cottage, NY, North Dakota and South Dakota (USA) and as "Mat Night" in Quebec (Unconfirmed, See "The Basketball Jones"), Canada, always on the 30 October, the eve of Halloween. It is also commonly known as "Devil's Night" in many places throughout Canada and western Pennsylvania.
It is also known in Yorkshire as "Mischievous Night", "Miggy Night", "Tick-Tack Night", "Corn Night", "Trick Night" and "Micky Night" and is celebrated on November 4. In Liverpool, it is known as "Mizzy Night" and is celebrated on October 30.
Popular tricks include toilet papering yards and buildings, powder-bombing and egging cars, people, and homes, using soap to write on windows, "forking" yards, setting off consumer fireworks, and smashing pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns. Local grocery stores often refuse to sell eggs to pre-teens and teens around the time of Halloween for this reason. Occasionally though, the damage can include the more serious spray-painting of buildings and homes.
Less destructive is the ever-popular "Ding-Dong Ditch". in this 'game' people ring doorbells or knock on doors, and then run and hide somewhere nearby. Areas known to use this term include suburban Chicago, Northern New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont. "Knick knock" or "Knicker-knocking" is commonly used in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania and "Knock n' Run" and "Knock Knock, Zoom Zoom" is commonly used in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area as well as in Liverpool, England. "Ring and Run" is also commonly used in northern New Jersey and New York. This game is known as Nicky-Nicky Nine Doors in Southern Ontario or Knock, Knock, Ginger throughout eastern Canada. A similar name exists in North East England, where it is known as Knicky-Knocky-Nine Doors. In Northern England the game is known by a number of names which vary by area, such as "knock and nash" and "bobby knocking", and often involves the joint pursuit of "hedge hopping", whereby the pranksters will jump from garden to garden, knocking on each door in turn before making a get-a-way to avoid being seen. In Scotland it is known as "Chapdoor Runaway" or even just "Chappy". In northern Lancashire it is known as Knock-a-door run. One variation on "Ding-Dong Ditch" involves pranksters inserting a pin into a doorbell so that it rings continuously. Also known in London.UK as "Knock down ginger".
Among younger children, the practice of trick-or-treating on Halloween night itself traditionally carried the implied threat of minor pranks (or "tricks") in the absence of the requested "treats"; in modern times, however, this threat is rarely if ever acted upon.
In Detroit, Michigan, which was particularly hard-hit by Devil's Night arson and vandalism throughout the 1980s, many citizens take it upon themselves to patrol the streets to deter arsonists and those who may break the law. This is known as "Angels' Night." Some 40,000 volunteer citizens patrol the city on Angels' Night, which usually runs October 29 through October 31, around the time most Halloween festivities are taking place.
The night is commonly known as "Cabbage Night" in parts of Vermont; Connecticut; Upstate New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Bergen County, New Jersey; and Boston, Massachusetts.
In Berkshire County, Massachusetts the night was commonly referred to as "Cabbage stalk night" from the 1970s through the '90s.
In rural Niagara Falls, Ontario during the 1950s and '60s, Cabbage Night referred to the custom of raiding local gardens for leftover rotting cabbages & hurling them about to create mischief in the neighbourhood.
Posted by Frank Forte at 12:44 PM