Friday, October 30, 2009

Mischief Night

Today is known as "Devil's Night" or "Mischief Night", a tradition involving pranks and minor vandalism which takes place every year on the eve of Halloween, October 30th. The tradition is often attributed to the Irish and Scottish immigrants who arrived in the United States during and after the "Irish Potato Famine" of 1845. And along with the tradition itself, they also popularized the folklore that the night's pranks and tricks were the work of faeries, goblins, and other mystical creatures.

Mischief Night activities are some of my fondest childhood memories, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate. The world had changed by the time I had my boys, and they were never able to experience what I had. I remember this night as being such a fun night when I was a kid, and although I now realize that my mom must have known what was going on, she never once tried to stop me from participating in the festivities with my friends. This night was just as much fun as Halloween itself, and it was agony for a child, waiting for the darkness to come; time seemed to move so much slower when I was young. Now it seems that a year has passed in the blink of an eye.

I cannot help but smile as I remember how much fun it was going about the neighborhood, ringing the doorbells and running away....that thrill of the chase. Of course, no one ever 'really' gave chase, but it was fun to think they would. And I do believe that many of them answered the doorbell just to give us kids that thrill. One thing Mom would never let me bring was eggs...and neither would the other moms...and the stores wouldn't sell eggs to us kids on mischief night, but every year at least one of my friends would always manage to finagle a few precious eggs from somewhere. No matter what, we kids always managed to come up with a bar of soap. I feel badly about that now, but as a child, soaping up the cars seemed like so much fun, and naively, I never realized how much work I was inflicting on my unsuspecting neighbors by soaping up their least not until I grew up and hubbie got his car.

And who could possibly forget about the most notorious stunt ever played on Mischief Night was on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles radio adaption of "War of the Worlds" created widespread panic as people thought the broadcast was for real, and the Martians had landed.

So, what are some of your Mischief Night memories?


  1. oh the mischief of Halloween... I remember it well.... such simple fun...

  2. When I was small, we used to do our mischief right on Halloween night, after the trick-or-treating was over. Same sorts of things: egging houses, toilet-papering trees, soaping house windows, knock-on-ginger games. But now I understand that the mischief night has moved to the night before Halloween. Here in Western Canada, it's called "Gate Night" although I have no idea why.

  3. I was a boring child - all I ever did was tip over "For Sale" signs when I found them. Giggle. I was all about the enchanted feeling of the night - I didn't need anything else to entertain me!