Mischief Night Vs Halloween

Discussion in 'Notes & Queries' started by Zeke Newbold, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Zeke Newbold

    Zeke Newbold Carbon based biped.

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    Halloween is dawning - they even mark it in Russia these days, or the young do so in the major citites at least. It's that globalised.

    I grew up in the seventies in the Northwest of England. My memory of that time is that Halloween was known about but was far from being the commecialised party event that it has since become. What we did have instead was Mischief Night - at least in the North we did.

    I am vague about dates but I recall Mischief Night as being somewhere near Halloween (Wikipedia puts it at 4th November, which doesn't sit with me somehow). It was a big event, known about on a folk level (I don't think the media promoted it and I can't believe our parents would have told us about it!) in which kids, really young kids, were given licence to run riot for the night. I have spoken to southerners who have no memory of it, so it belongs to - at the very least - the north of Crewe.

    Looking back on it ( and of course, it's a reinterpreted memory we're talking about here) I feel vaguely shocked at the fact that we were allowed to get a way with what we did. I recall ringing door bells and scarpering, nicking people'sgates and even someone sticking `bangers` in people's exhaust pipes - and generally seriously winding up older people. (I suppose it was `trick or treat` minus the request, or expectation, of any treat).

    As for Halloween: yeah we sort of marked it with apple bobbing and I recall holding and (to my shame) dropping) a jack-o-lantern - made out of a turnip (I don't think I'd seen a real live pumpkin intil the late eighties at least!) But Mischief Night was the big event.

    Do other's memories tally with this?
     
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  2. McAvennie

    McAvennie Justified & Ancient

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    I'd never heard of it until recently, seems to be a NW England thing and largely an excuse for "legalized" troublemaking....
     
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  3. kamalktk

    kamalktk Justified & Ancient

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    The Purge, junior edition.
     
  4. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

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    I think Zeke has confessed on another thread to coming from the same town I do! Maybe not quite the same era.

    Anyway, November 4th was definitely Mischief Night in the sixties. It was never a licensed season of folly: people deplored it and wanted kids hanged for taking their gates off.

    Most of the people I knew had their gates wired on to prevent this stereotyped prank. Letting off bangers was the main nuisance of the evening, though these were the days of the rip-rap, which posh folk called the Chinese Jumping Cracker - now illegal. I do remember dodging these on a few occasions when they were launched on unsuspecting pedestrians from side alleys. Larger firework misuse was rare but only, I suspect, on expense grounds.

    Ringing door-bells and scarpering was something I took part in and I have an utterly beserk memory of watching a friend post lit safety-matches down the fuel-pipe of a van! Such were the days! They only feel safe because we survived them.

    Supporting the firework industry was a local duty!

    Actually, Excelsior were regarded as a bit crap, before they went up in flames. I think the industry has gone back to China now. :(
     
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  5. hunck

    hunck Justified & Ancient

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    Me neither. Never heard of it 'til reading it here. Certainly not done to my knowledge dahn sarf & would have been frowned upon round my way.

    So now we've got Halloween, Mischief Night & Guy Fawkes within 6 days..

    Halloween was never a big thing when I was young - strictly Guy Fawkes only. And lets be honest, Guy Fawkes is the best of the lot - fireworks, bonfires, snacks. Halloween you're going to grow out of once you're older than 9..
     
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  6. Krepostnoi

    Krepostnoi Hoarse Bronzeman

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    I grew up in Bradford. Mischief Night was definitely a thing, and it was definitely November 4, too. I don't remember getting up to any particular high (or low) jinks beyond knocking on doors and running away, but was aware of - pretty nasty - tricks like putting dog eggs in paper bags and setting the bag on fire on the doorstep of the poor sap whose door you'd just knocked on, in the hope that when they open the door, they stamp the fire out. Gluing drawing pins to doorbells was another very vindictive one I recall - the vicious detail being that you dip the point in the dog turd first, in the hope that your victim would lick the jabbed finger. That's tantamount to biological warfare :eek: I also have vague memories that other people's bonfires were key targets - to light them a day early. I have to say, I don't know if anyone actually did any of this - it's more like a sub-set of urban legends: you'll never guess what so-and-so's mate did.

    I went trick-or-treating once as a child, in the early 1980s. It was already an accepted practice in Bradford by then. Like Zeke, I, too, had a turnip lantern rather than any of yer high-falutin' pumpkins. My "trick" was going to be to crush some of the garlic pearl capsules my mum was fond of taking - they didn't half reek if they did get punctured or broken. I don't think I got the opportunity to use them, though.
     
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  7. escargot

    escargot Beloved of Ra

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    There was no tradition of Mischief Night in Crewe that I remember. Halloween was celebrated with apple-bobbing and witchy costumes for children, but the big event was Bonfire Night.

    It was huge. Treacle toffee, fireworks, bonfires made of scrap wood begged and collected for weeks before, clones of the unfortunate Guy Fawkes made of newspaper-stuffed clothing hawked around on pram wheels by little boys begging shoppers for 'a penny for the Guy'...

    Where I lived there was slum clearance and the bonfires were on local 'waste grounds', yards from houses where families lived. Used to worry me a little as a child. The Fire Brigade would occasionally attend.
     
  8. Frideswide

    Frideswide Princess (PeteByrdie Certificated)

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    No mischief night memories here! (SW Scotland)
     
  9. Swifty

    Swifty Beloved of Ra

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    Talking of dog eggs, a good trick in the 70's was to spear one with a stick and wave it menacingly at the local hard kid gang waiting to try it on with you. They weren't afraid of being punched but were terrified of the possibility of their mates laughing at them for being splatted with dog poo .. and also being splatted with dog poo ..
     
  10. Ringo

    Ringo Well-hung member

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    We didn't have Mischief night in my part of the NE (or at least we didn't call it that) but we often did play "Knocky 9 doors" as we called it. My grand scheme was to tie thread from the outside door handle of one house and over to the opposite house where it was attached to a small twig propping open their letterbox. There was then a thread from the handle on that door passed back over the street to the house diagnally opposite who also had a twig holding open their letterbox. And so on and so on.

    All you had to do was knock on the first door, run, hide and watch the chain reaction.

    I also remember one night visiting a friend in a rougher part of the NE. We went crazy with bangers - throwing them at cars, through letterboxes, seeing how long we dared hold them before they went off. What utter shits we were.
     
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  11. Zeke Newbold

    Zeke Newbold Carbon based biped.

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    It was! And we were well brought up middle-class kids and all! Someone else here called it The Purge: Junior edition, which is about right.

    What about France then, McAvennie? I read somewhere that Northern France has a native All Hallow's Eve tradition - which surprised me a bit! Have you noticed any festive Halloween customs there which differ from the usual American export? (I'm thinking mulled wines, for some reason).
     
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  12. Zeke Newbold

    Zeke Newbold Carbon based biped.

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    Halloween as we now know it, is very much a north American import - what with the whole fancy dress, pumpkin and trick or treat angle. I grew up an a poncey brocolli chomping household but I'm pretty sre I hadn't so much as clapped eyes on a pumpkin until some time in the late Eighties (Does the UK even grow them?) And i don't thin k I'd tasted pumpkin until quite recently(courtesy of Russian cuisine!)

    All the winter festivities are a bit alike in that they all have something a bit morbid and ghostly about them. and derive from Celtic and Viking traditions. I'm fairly sure that bonfire night would have existed in some form previous to the guy Fawkes incident. I think it was a ritual- complete with wicker man - to drive away evil spirits in the night long before it became annexed by the Protetants.

    Even Christmas: there has long been a habit ot telling ghost stories at Christmas time. The BBC used to know this and had a slot called`The Christmas ghost story` in which someone like Robert Powell would sit and read out a wintry spectral tale by the likes of M.R James.

    Arrgh! I'm getting homesick, and nostalgic....I need a nurse!

    nurse.jpg
     
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  13. mr_nic

    mr_nic Explorer of the realm of possibilities...

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    It was definitely a 'thing' in my small East Yorkshire town too in the late 70s/early 80s. I don't remember a definite date either except that a wave of communication would spread throughout the school during the day. Had to be close to Bonny Night as bangers were a mischief weapon of choice so 4th November sounds right.

    It's all tied up together in my mind with turnip lanterns (mmm that smell of burning turnip), treacle toffee, bonfires, cold dark nights etc. As for the mischief, it was very much as mentioned in the threads above (although ringing doorbells and letting off bangers in milk bottles was as far as I went) - still a bit shit for those on the receiving end.

    Also, thanks to Swifty for reminding me of the dog tod on a stick defence. It worked out well for me on at least one occasion.
     
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  14. McAvennie

    McAvennie Justified & Ancient

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    Halloween is pretty low key over here, in Paris at least, it's not even that easy to find a pumpkin to carve every year.

    I've noticed generally that ghosts and belief in the peculiar is not really widespread. For all the historic traumas and troubles in the city there aren't any obvious phantoms I know of.

    And don't get me started on Missing out on Bonfire Night :( They have a fireworks display at the Embassy but you have to know the right people.
     
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  15. eburacum

    eburacum Papo-furado

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    Mischief Night was certainly a thing in York in the 80's; our gate got took off its hinges and so on. Halloween has really buried, or subsumed, that tradition.

    Mind you, the standard of Halloween masks is amazing; you wouldn't believe what the kids were wearing when they went off round Town last night. At least two clowns and a POTC Davy Jones.
     
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  16. hunck

    hunck Justified & Ancient

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    POTC - pick of the crop? The cheeky chap from the Monkees? Seems a little harsh..
     
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  17. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Pirates of the Caribbean. :rofl:
     
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  18. hunck

    hunck Justified & Ancient

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    I feel such a fool...
     
  19. GerdaWordyer

    GerdaWordyer Abominable Snowman

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    I can certainly identify with the free-range kid activities of Mischief Night. In the 50's and 60's U.S. Hallowe'en was all about untended kids roaming for hours in the dark. We did go house to house for candy, but to me the fun was the disguising in costumes and the freedom from adults for hours in the dark. This may well be why I still like spooky and Fortean things
     
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  20. Ringo

    Ringo Well-hung member

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    Halloween meant playing with candles and matches too (when we were deemed old enough). We never did anything destructive, like setting fire to bins or tramps. We would usually congregate in someones garage and tell ghost stories around a lit candle.
     
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  21. David Plankton

    David Plankton Justified & Ancient

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    American artist Jamie Wyeth painted a picture titled Mischief Night in 1986.



    mischief-night-1986.jpg
     
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  22. hunck

    hunck Justified & Ancient

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    Since Guy Fawkes night has been mentioned,

    Edenbridge in Kent have previous in extravagant effigies to burn on the night.

    This year it's Trump holding the head of Clinton, with Mexicans on his shorts.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. UnknownUnknown

    UnknownUnknown Ephemeral Spectre

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    We did mischief night in Leeds in the 80s. It was at least as big as Halloween, though I remember it being on 30th October (night before Halloween, as opposed to the night before bonfire night). Could be wrong though.

    Some really nasty 'pranks' looking back. Fireworks through letterboxes, anyone?

    Does anyone know the origins of this? Does it still happen at all?
     
  24. OneWingedBird

    OneWingedBird Beloved of Ra

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    Very similar in Leeds cira late 70s to early 80s, almost identical pranks that I heard about but never saw first hand, though I did see the milk bottle on the door handle thing a few times, just never actually on mischief night.

    One year a neighbour's bonfire got lit the night before, probably because the family weren't overly popular. Ended up backfiring on whoever tried to bugger them up, as the dad worked at a tip and came home on 5th with a dumper truck type thing containing an inordinate amount of old wooden furniture.
     
  25. Dotty

    Dotty Fresh Blood

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    I also grew in north west England, in the 60's mischief night in our area was always 4th November, I always thought this was due to 'the mischief' having taken originally in the palace of Westminster by Guy Foulkes and his cronies on that night ... and that was the reason for bonfire and fireworks and the penny for the Guy business?
     
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  26. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    Mischief Night geographically ends just past Manchester. Not sure about our brothers and sisters across the M62.
     
  27. Ghost In The Machine

    Ghost In The Machine Abominable Snowman

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    We did Mischief night here in what was then the West Riding of Yorkshire, but now is North Yorkshire (go figure). It was indeed the 4th Nov. Sometimes we got more excited about that, than Bonfire Night... So not just the NW - also Yorkshire as t'others here said.

    Having just watched 'Gunpowder' I now feel bad about celebrating Bonfire Night, all those years... We were only 10 mile or so down the road from York, where Guy Fawkes was from - I don't think we should ever have done it!
     
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  28. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

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    I think the Opies did a map of where Mischief Night was celebrated on the various dates: it was not neatly geographical at all. It was the same with some rhyme-variants, which could leap miles or counties, maybe carried on the wings of a single child! :plane:
     
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  29. decipheringscars

    decipheringscars Abominable Snowman

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    Here in Detroit we have something similar: Devil's Night on the night before Halloween (Hallowe'en e'en?).

    It's not as much of a thing anymore, thankfully, because it's a bit more than mere mischief. The main thing was arson - burning vacant houses and other buildings, especially. In the late '90s, Mayor Dennis Archer started a push called "Angels' Night," where people would sign up to be in the streets and watch for unwanted activity. There were posters you could get to put on buildings that had a huge pair of eyes and read "THIS BUILDING IS BEING WATCHED." We put one on the derelict house we were rehabbing (that I now live in) in the early '00s.
     
  30. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    I was visiting an old college chum in Detroit on Devil's Night in the very early 1990's. He lived in a high-rise near the city's center. After returning to his apartment from a nice dinner we poured some good liquor, parked ourselves in front of his picture window, and watched for the expected fires to appear. I recall there were as many as 3 or 4 whole-house fires visible in the distance at the same time.
     

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