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Tonight is known as Mischief Night!
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 30 of October, repeating indefinitely
For roughly a quarter of Americans (particularly in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest), tonight is known as Mischief Night! (Or Cabbage Night, Devil’s Night, or Goosey Night depending on the region one lives in.) The night before Halloween is seen as a time of mischief for young people, with common pranks including toilet papering houses, pumpkin-stealing, and ding-dong ditch. 🧻 🎃 🧻
So, how did this weird regional trend get started? Mischief nights date back to 18th and 19th century England, when pranksters caused chaos on the night before May Day.
Newspaper reports of Mischief Night in America (occurring the night before Halloween) did not appear until the 1930s and 1940s. It’s also thought that the stresses of the Great Depression and World War II were a catalyst for a night of pranks and vandalism. Historically, Halloween was a time of pranks, but by the 1930s, parents were also making a concerted effort to remove that element from the day itself.
Did you know? Most see Mischief Night as harmless, but historically, it has been very destructive in some places. In 1980s Detroit, riots and arson marred the night and to this day, the city has regulations in place to prevent destruction at the end of October.
“A Thrilling Halloween” postcard, c.1910
-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Media and Digital Content Associate