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"goosey night" vs. "mischief night"
October 23, 2006 7:04 AM   Subscribe

My fiance and I have an on going debate regaring the name of the night before holloween. Growing up in a new jersey city we called it mischief night, but the 'burbs she grew up in watered it down to goosey night. I know some places call it devil's night, etc... What names is it called elsewhere. What name brings the sweet memories of getting egged and flower sacked to you folks?
posted by jeffe to Society & Culture (38 answers total)
 
We called it 'cabbage night' in Vermont.
posted by o0dano0o at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2006


I think this should answer your question.
posted by justkevin at 7:07 AM on October 23, 2006


Devil's Night
posted by caddis at 7:17 AM on October 23, 2006


It's mischief night in Philly where I grew up but inexplicably Devil's night just across the river in Camden, NJ where it was often used as an excuse to start fires.

70% of the people in justkevin's link "have no word for this." Wow.
posted by fixedgear at 7:30 AM on October 23, 2006


they were the good kids
posted by caddis at 7:32 AM on October 23, 2006


Another vote for Mischief Night where I was raised in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. My father used to make my brother and I sit on the front porch as a deterrent.
posted by NationalKato at 7:34 AM on October 23, 2006


The other interesting bit from the Dialect Survey is "other (4.11%)" That's a really high 'other' number and means they missed they probably missed some popular options.
posted by smackfu at 7:35 AM on October 23, 2006


I grew up in the South (VA and NC), and not only was there no word for this, there was no concept -- nobody went out and did anything the night before Halloween.
posted by JanetLand at 7:35 AM on October 23, 2006


It was always Devil's night in Windsor ON and Detroit. I was in high school when the 1984 and I remember being able to see some of the fires in Detroit from across the river.
posted by substrate at 7:44 AM on October 23, 2006


goosey and cabbage just sound lame.

Devil's night is the clear winner.

Mischief night sounds like litigation to me.
posted by ewkpates at 7:55 AM on October 23, 2006


Grew up in Northern NY, and like JanetLand, there was no name, because no one did anything.

The first I heard of it was in some movie or other (probably The Crow, but may have been some other flick before that) where it was "Devil's Night".

Maybe having a name for this has something to do with being in proximity to a relatively big city?
posted by blind.wombat at 8:04 AM on October 23, 2006


Growing up in the DC suburbs we called it "Trick or Treat Night." Upon reflecting, I'm not sure why... it may have depended on the calendar (like if Halloween was on a school night, and the day before was not -- but that only happens about two out of every seven years?)
posted by Rash at 8:16 AM on October 23, 2006


Also grew up in South NJ (the shore), although my parents are from Philly, so it's Mischief Night to me. I don't recall anyone at school calling it anything else.
posted by cabingirl at 8:20 AM on October 23, 2006


"no word for this" in Massachusetts... I never heard of it having a name at all until I saw The Crow.
posted by jozxyqk at 8:41 AM on October 23, 2006


I grew up in South Jersey (Philly burbs area) and always heard Mischief Night. I never, ever believed my college roommate (from Bergen County) when he said they called it Goosey Night until just now.
posted by graymouser at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2006


I've only heard "Gate Night" here (Winnipeg, Canada).
posted by pocams at 9:24 AM on October 23, 2006


I have never heard of anything other than Devil's Night in BC, Canada.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:39 AM on October 23, 2006


pocams - it's Gate Night in North Dakota as well. We were always told that the name came from opening farmers' gates, letting the cows out (which if you mix together a couple herds, is a terrible pain in the ass to sort out).
posted by nathan_teske at 10:28 AM on October 23, 2006


Here on Long Island, in my 40 years of experience it wasn't performed (and therefore has no name). But in upstate NY (Plattsburgh, Malone, Peru) they called it Cabbage Night.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2006


Everyone I know in Southern Ontario calls it Devils Night.
posted by maxpower at 10:53 AM on October 23, 2006


The fact that 70% of the people in the dialect survey had no word for it is a strong indicator that this is a pretty limited regional ritual in the first place.
posted by jjg at 10:59 AM on October 23, 2006


It was always Cabbage Night where I grew up. (1970s Suburban Boston)
posted by bondcliff at 11:00 AM on October 23, 2006


In Cincinnati, we call it Damage Night.

Mind you, nothing happens here at all.
posted by Mick at 11:12 AM on October 23, 2006


I grew up in southern Illinois, and this is literally the first time I've ever heard of people going out and doing anything the night before.
posted by EarBucket at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2006


Mischief night - southern Connecticut
posted by SheIsMighty at 11:18 AM on October 23, 2006


Have never even heard of such a night -- considering Halloween itself is the eve of a special day, what good is having and eve eve?
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2006


Growing up in Alaska, we had no name for the night before Halloween, and no one ever did anything on it except maybe last-minute costume alterations. I thought Halloween night was the time for mischief, not the night before?
posted by rhapsodie at 1:01 PM on October 23, 2006


See also
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2006


I did a bit of research on Devil's Night for an art history course at UMichigan and one thing the Wiki article doesn't note but that '8 Mile' alludes to is that the practice of burning houses was partly pinned to the high number of abandoned houses in Detroit. The reasoning was that people were burning empty homes because they attracted crime and drugs to a street. I think also as the article notes, it was part of a widespread practice of insurance fraud. I think, too there was a strange kind of copycat phenomenon for awhile in that the incidents really heated up around 1984 which was when Detroit had a riot following the Tigers' World Series victory. There was also an early poisoned packaged food scare involving a Detroit suburb brand of hot dogs that year or the year before (poisoned packaged food being another scary byproduct of Halloween particularly in the 80s). My research involved looking at every October 29-Nov 1 edition of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit Times from 1940 on, and the first mentions I saw of holiday vandalism occured in the 50s, with the name Devil's Night not occuring until the 80s, I'm pretty sure.

Interestingly, I just moved to Ireland for the year and the Wiki article claims that Devil's Night has come here.
posted by Slothrop at 1:52 PM on October 23, 2006


I almost forgot (and I'm probably showing my age) but when I was a kid we also had soap night and chalk night. It was sort of like the Haloween season...
posted by fixedgear at 1:55 PM on October 23, 2006


I grew up in the South (VA and NC), and not only was there no word for this, there was no concept -- nobody went out and did anything the night before Halloween.

I thought Halloween night was the time for mischief, not the night before?

Same here (Georgia). No one did anything the night before but houses got egged and such the night of. The first time I heard of the devil's/mischief/cabbage night concept was on some TV show, and I swore I thought it was entirely fiction.
posted by Famous at 3:02 PM on October 23, 2006


"Beggar's Night" in cetnral Ohio.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:19 PM on October 23, 2006


In Ann Arbor, we were aware of it as Devil's Night from proximity to Detroit, but there wasn't nearly as much mayhem. In fact, if it hadn't been for teachers, radio PSAs etc. begging us not to burn things down, I don't think it would have occurred to me that anyone would.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:32 PM on October 23, 2006


I also grew up in the South, along the Gulf Coast in MS. Back when I was a kid, in the late '70s and early '80s, there was no concept of this there, either. I didn't even know there existed a term for this until I read this thread! I learned something new today...
posted by misozaki at 5:02 PM on October 23, 2006


Grew up in Montreal, west end. For some reason, completely unknown to me, my friends and I all called it "Matt Night". Not sure of the spelling, since I never saw it written.
posted by birdsquared at 6:03 PM on October 23, 2006


I grew up in rural Michigan, very far from Detroit, and it was still Devil's Night. We didn't do much burning (not enough houses!) but did get up to many devilish activities.
posted by sluggo at 4:40 PM on October 24, 2006


Sussex County, New Jersey. Goosey Night, baby. Goosey Night!

I'm tempted to go window soaping now.
posted by codswallop at 4:48 PM on October 24, 2006


Latecoming data point, because I didn't see it listed:

Suburbs outside of Baltimore, MD -- Moving Night

(Now, granted, my family is transplated from Bronx NYC, so the term may have come with us, but that's the only memory I have of calling it anything. However, what hazy memories I have are of calling it 'Moving Night' with MD-local friends)
posted by Adelwolf at 8:57 AM on October 25, 2006


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