A history of Halloween, Devil's Night
October 31 is Halloween, or All Hallows Eve - it's a night for fun, mischief, pranks, ghouls and goblins.
It's when people dress up, in most often ridiculous costumes, go out, treat their way to something yummy, or trick their way to something mischievous.
See the end of this article for infomation on this year's New York Halloween Parade.
October 30 is Devil's Night, the night before Halloween, or Miggy Night in parts of the UK, where young trick or treaters pull as many pranks as they can, and well, act like little Devils.
Mischief Night, as it is most commonly known in the United States, has been around in its present form for at least 50 years, when it became a day for playing "tricks" while Halloween itself was reserved for the little one to gather "treats." The practice goes back hundreds of years before that, though, to a time when Halloween and misbehavior were inextricably linked.
In some areas, unfortunately, today's pranks have evolved into acts much scarier than ghosts or goblins.
Mischief always a part of Halloween
Causing mischief has been a part of the Halloween tradition since the very beginning.
The most ancient roots of Halloween come from the Celts of Great Britain, who believed that the day before their Nov. 1 New Year was a time when spirits came back to haunt and play tricks. On Oct. 31, people dressed up in scary costumes, played games, lit bonfires and left food out on their doorsteps for the ghosts in celebration of this otherworldly event, which the Celts called Samhain.
After the 800s Samhain merged with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, but after the Reformation, most of England stopped treating at Halloween, and instead saved the tricking part to Guy Fawkes Night on November 5, which celebrates the famous Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
When the Irish, Scottish and English immigrated to North America in the 1800s, they brought Halloween with them, but the trick or treating side of Halloween really came back into recognition in the 1920s and 30s, after the violence of the Great Depression. This was the time when the celebrations of October 31 were transfered to October 30th as the day to pull off pranks.
Pranks include toilet-papering of homes and trees, egging houses, smashing pumpkins and mailboxes.
Devil's Night is notorious in Detroit for its ties to gang culture and acts of arson. A curfew for minors is in effect every year on October 30th in Detroit and volunteers are recruited to patrol the streets and keep an eye out for mayhem.
The famous New York Halloween Parade is October 31st as well.
However, this year is a little different. Sponsors of the Halloween Parade in New York City have pulled out this year due to not being able to afford it. The parade has over 60,000 participants in elaborate costumes, and can draw up to 2 million spectators in the West Village.