Happy Halloween Boooooo

One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Devils Night

The night before Halloween, October 30th has traditionally been a night of pranks and mischief in much of the Midwest and some of the northeastern United States, as well as some parts of Canada.

Devil’s Night in Detroit can probably be traced back to mid-1880’s Ireland, where the night of mischief was originally attributed to fairies and goblins. In the United States, the holiday morphed into a night of soaping windows and toilet papering (a verb) trees.

In other words, October 30th was the “trick” to Halloween’s “treat” and gave suburban kids a night of rebellion and anarchy.

Mischief on October 30th

Region to region, the night has different names, but the activities remain very much the same: ringing doorbells, egging cars, dumping rotten produce and setting a bag of poop on fire. Camden, New Jersey calls the Holiday Mischief Night, while other parts of New Jersey call it Cabbage Night. Cincinnati, Ohio calls it Damage Night, while other parts of Ohio call it Beggar’s Night. In other regions of the United States, it is known as Doorbell Night, Trick Night, Corn Night, Tick-Tack Night and Goosey Night. In Canada, it is known as either Gate Night or Matt Night.

The Southwestern United States Doesn’t Celebrate

As widespread as the phenomenon seems to be, many parts of the United States, most notably states in the south and west, never heard of it and apparently reserve all their mischievous hijinks for Halloween.

Devil’s Night in Detroit

In Detroit and much of Michigan, the night is known infamously as Devil’s Night, a moniker now eternally linked with widespread arson. Devil’s Night was once, however, just a different name for more of the same: mischief. In spite of the notoriety of Devil’s Night, Detroit is not the only region to experience an escalation from pranks to arson on October, 30th.

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