Where did Mischief Night go?

Monday, October 27, 2014

By Chris Linvill

Mischief Night is a night that most of us recall as a night of pranks and vandalism. I have never taken part in mischief night, but I am probably in the minority.

Mischief Night takes place the night before Halloween in the Philadelphia area and seems to legitimize – at least for teens – egging houses, toilet papering neighbors’ trees and other acts of vandalism. Although police usually patrol the neighborhood, there are a lot of mad homeowners in the morning, all in the name of tradition.

“The idea of letting children have a ‘lawless night’ originated in England, and was often celebrated on May Day Eve (April 30) or on Halloween,” writes Cherie D. Abbey in “Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary.”

But in the mid-17th century, when Guy Fawkes Day (November 5) became a national holiday, Guy Fawkes Eve became the most popular night for mischief in England, Australia, and New Zealand, where it is sometimes called Mischievous Night or “Danger Night.”

But Mischief Night seems to have had a decline in its popularity locally. I no longer hear of kids going out and no longer witness it either.

Furthermore, media outlets don’t seem to cover it as much anymore

OneoffewacasesthatIcanfindis from Phillipsburg, Pa. where three teens were arrested for vandalizing a property with spray paint Oct. 31 last year, according to Tony Rhodin, reporter for the Express- Times.

In other places, Mischief Night has different names. In Detroit it is known as Devil’s Night.

Lee DeVito of Detroit’s Metro Times reported on the mayor’s plan to help prevent arson and other acts of vandalism. “As in past years, neighborhood watch patrols, enforced police curfews for minors, turning on porch lights, and posting signs warning that abandoned buildings are being watched are planned in an effort to curb fires that have plagued Detroit in the Halloween season for years.”

In Detroit, it seems to be a bigger problem than it is around the Delaware County area and much more serious.

This announcement by Detroit’s mayor is just to inform people that vandalism still happens on this night even though it isn’t as prominent as before.

Is Mischief Night starting to die down in our culture? Or are we just not noticing


I polled 15 students at DCCC and only five people said they ever went out on Mischief Night. Three said they knew of a friend that went out.

Another three had no idea what Mischief Night even was.

Two popular acts of vandalism involved people egging houses and a car.

One student said that he totaled a car and another said he put a stink bomb in a mailbox.

Almost all who took part in the poll said they went out on Mischief Night in high school.

Maybe some youth today still take part in Mischief Night, but it seems like we hear about it less now because many students now in college never really engaged in it.

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