The history of “mischief night”

An interesting history of the American tradition of “mischief night”:

“Mischief Night, in my Pennsylvania suburb and in the New Jersey towns of several people I spoke to, involved mild pranks committed on October 30. The perpetrators – typically those who had just aged out of trick-or-treating, so early teenagers – would throw rolls of toilet paper over houses and trees, maybe ring a neighbour’s doorbell and sprint away before the door was opened, maybe throw some eggs at a window.”

Interestingly, the tradition is highly localised to Pennsylvania and part of New Jersey, but it started as a May Day tradition in Northern England, before mutating over time and distance to become the night-before-Halloween tradition it is now:

“Mischief Night, or neet, appears to have been most popular in Northern England, particularly in the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. According to Allen, though, it was not originally associated with Halloween, but rather with May Day, a very old festival signalling the beginning of summer. There is already, by the early 1800s, some public panic about the rebellious nature of Mischief Night, which seems to have been (or seen as, by adults) a time for both vandalism and sexual encounters.”