31 Days of Hallowe’en Tales: Day 30 – Mischief Night

Devil’s Night in the states, Noson Ddrygioni in Wales, Oidhche nan Cleas in Scotland and Mischief Night in the north. Whatever you call it, in our penultimate Halloween Tale inspired by local folklore, we find that as the veil between ours and other worlds becomes thinner on the eve of Halloween, children especially could get up to no good.

“Here’s to Devil’s Night, my new favourite holiday!”

So says T-Bird in 1994’s The Crow – a film adaptation of James O’Barr’s exceptional comic book of the same name. It’s a story about a wronged spirit, returning to wreak revenge on the eve of Halloween, also known as Devil’s Night. A tale about the nature of evil and the power of love.

The stateside tradition of Devil’s Night is more commonly known as Mischief Night in Lancashire. It is a real tradition and one that keeps police on their toes across the county every 30th October.

This separation of Halloween tricks from treats seems to have only developed in certain areas. Mischief Night is known in Welsh as Noson Ddrygioni and in Scottish Gaelic as Oidhche nan Cleas.

In Yorkshire as Mischievous Night or the shortened ‘Chievous Night, Miggy Night, Tick-Tack Night, Corn Night, Trick Night or Micky Night. In some areas of the county, it is extremely popular among 13-year-olds who believe it to be a sort of coming of age ceremony.

In certain parts of Lancashire and the north of England, it is still advisable to remove your garden gate yourself and secure it inside before dark falls.

In and around the city of Liverpool, Mischief Night is known locally as Mizzy Night and trouble areas were being patrolled by the Merseyside Police in 2015. Unfortunately, it has spiralled in modern times from simple pranks to full scale violence and vandalism, not unlike the Devil’s Night we see represented in The Crow.

The earliest reference to Mischief Night was recorded in 1790 when a headmaster encouraged a school play which ended in “an Ode to Fun which praises children’s tricks on Mischief Night in most approving terms”.

In some regions in England, these pranks were originally carried out as part of the May Day celebrations, but shifted to later in the year. Dates vary in different areas, some marking it traditionally on 4th November, the night before bonfire night, and others on 30th October, the night before Halloween, though the latter is marked traditional nowadays.

According to one historian May Day and the Green Man had little resonance for children in grimy cities. They looked at the opposite end of the year and found the ideal time, the night before the Gunpowder Plot. However, the shift only happened in the late 19th century and is described by the Opies as one of the mysteries of the folklore calendar.

A favourite Mischief Night trick was to remove a neighbours garden gate and hide it. In certain parts of Lancashire and the north of England, it is still advisable to remove your garden gate yourself and secure it inside before dark falls on Mischief Night and it becomes free game to the local children!

Happy Mischief Night. Tomorrow is Hallowe’en, or more correctly for the Fylde Coast, it is Teanlay Night. Come back then for one last tale, before October comes to an end and I sign off until next year.

Read our previous Hallowe’en Tales

Day 1 – The Curse of Carleton Crematorium.
Day 2 – The Witch Ducking Stools of Poulton-Le-Fylde.
Day 3 – The Ghost-Seer of Weeton.
Day 4 – Smuggling, Drowned Nuns and Fallen Acrobats at Raikes Hall

Day 5 – The Hauntings at the Old Coach House
Day 6 – Old Scrat
Day 7 – A Goblin Funeral at Extwistle Hall
Day 8 – The Ghost of Lady Macbeth
Day 9 – The Mermaid & The Sea Serpent of Marton Mere
Day 10 – The Banshee of Poulton
Day 11 – The Possession of the Lancashire Seven
Day 12 – Lady Fleetwood of old Ross Hall
Day 13 – Tales of Boggart House Farm
Day 14 – Miss Bamber of Marton and her Charms
Day 15 – A Severed Head at Mowbreck Hall
Day 16 – Burnley’s Satanic Pigs and the Clogging of Owd Nick
Day 17 – Three Pilling Boggarts
Day 18 – Hall i’ th’Wood
Day 19 – The Skull House, Appley Bridge
Day 20 – The Boggart of Clegg Hall
Day 21 – The Haunted Hall on the Hill
Day 22 – The Wraiths of Wycoller

Day 23 – The Shipwrecks and Hauntings of Bispham Village
Day 24 – All Hallows Church and the Zodiac Portal
Day 25 – The Drowned Villages of the Fylde Coast
Day 26 – The Spirits of Skippool Creek

Day 27 – Whittingham Asylum for Pauper Lunatics
Day 28 – The White Lady of Old Whitegate Lane
Day 29 – The Noisy Ghost of Major Longworth

Take a look at Zowie Swan’s debut novel, Chingle Hall here.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
  • Zowie Swan is a local writer of fiction and folklaw. Her debut novel, Chingle Hall, is out now with Safety Pin Publishing. She's also bassist for Blackpool band Dischord.

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