So tonight is Hallowe'en and all over the country pumpkins are being hollowed out, that horrible cobweb stuff is being hung over doorframes and battered, plastic witches' hats are being dusted off. I've never really 'got' Hallowe'en as an 'event'. We did all about it at school and would draw pictures with ghosts on but that's about as far as it went. Hallowe'en came and went and everybody concerned themselves more with impending Bonfire Night.
Now it seems as if Hallowe'en has turned into a monster much more ghoulish than any of the damned souls supposedly roaming the Earth on All Hallows' Eve. Shops are stocking bunting and costumes way before October kicks in and I've been asked the bizarre question 'What are you doing for Hallowe'en?' more than once. The answer is: fuck all, it's a Tuesday.
The trick or treat aspect of Hallowe'en baffles me: as a child in Yorkshire this part of the night was all but ignored. No eggs at windows, no sugar in the petrol tank, no potatoes in exhausts. This is not to say that all Yorkshire children are angelic. Instead we had a special night set aside for doing these things: Mischievous Night (sometimes known as Mischief Night but more usually wonderfully mispronounced as Mischievious Night). Mischievous Night is on 4 November every year and originated from the practice of stealing other people's firewood from their bonfire stacks. Mischievous Night doesn't bother with the niceties of offering your victim the chance to give you a 'treat' to avoid a 'trick'. It's trick, trick, trick all the way, whether you like it or not. Eggs thrown at doors, windows and people was usually the favourite way to bring out the inner delinquent, but smearing poo on door handles and ordering countless taxis and pizzas were also strong contenders. I could usually never be bothered to take part in most of this, but would rouse myself and step out to throw the odd egg.
I don't know whether Mischievous Night is still going. I think it's all but died out because my younger sister hasn't mentioned it but she has been most insistent on going 'Hallowe'ening'. If I were more of a xenophobe I suppose I'd say something about American culture supplanting British traditions, but I can't be arsed and anyway, taking part in Mischievous Night is likely to land you an ASBO these days so perhaps it's one custom that's best left to wither away.
I do notice, however, that a new film called Mischief Night is about to be released, so maybe it's not over yet. I might just pop out and get some eggs for old time's sake.
Hallowe'en Mischief Night Yorkshire