Those of us of a certain age who still follow the Old Ways or are Northern (in my case both) will know that tonight 4th November – not Halloween nor Bonfire Night – is the most important night in the mid-autumn folklore season.
Why? Because tonight in Mischief Night, aka Miggy Night or Punkie Night.
It was like Halloween trick-or-treating but without any treats and with tricks verging on minor acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour as we school kids peddled forth on our bicycles to inflict a reign of terror on the Good Citizens of my home town of Scarborough. You know... dropping lighted fireworks through letterboxes, ringing doorbells and running away before they were opened (known as Knock, Knock Ginger), lifting garden gates off their hinges, and ordering taxis to call at the homes of hated schoolteachers.
And, it wasn’t just in Scarborough, as Mischief Night was celebrated across all the Northern counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and as far south as Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. One suggestion is the 4th of November was the night Guy Fawkes got up to his mischief in the undercroft beneath the parliament building in Westminster. But, given the strong Viking heritage of these counties – all part of Danelaw from the mid 8th to mid 10th centuries – is there also a connection with Loki, the Norse trickster god, at work here?
The 4th November was also the night we lit our lanterns. Called Punkie lanterns, they were carved out of turnips or swedes rather than pumpkins and lighting them was accompanied by reciting the rhyme:
Give me a candle
Give me a light
If you don’t
You’ll get a fright
And yes the local hospitals A&E department was full of boys who'd cut, stabbed or sliced themselves with carving knives and potato peelers trying to carve out rock hard turnips.
Mischief Night was already in decline by the 1970s – about the same time as local authorities started gentrifying Bonfire Night by encouraging organised, communal fireworks displays, rather than allowing everyone to do their own thing (explosives, petrol, and fire – what could possibly go wrong) – and was subsequently swept away by the retail shopping festival that is Halloween.
This is Urban Fantasist
Barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer, award-winning tech journalist, radio presenter, podcaster, blogger, storyteller, and sometime werewolf-hunter Charles Christian is here to inform and entertain you with tales of writing, radio, geek, tech, media, music, urban myths, folklore, the weird and anything else that intrigues him. The site also has links to all Charles Christian's books including fiction, nonfiction, and the latest reviews. Plus links to his weekly Weird Tales and Smart Radio shows.
The Latest Podcast
In Episode 48 of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcast we sing the sad song of the Mistletoe Bride trapped in her living tomb + take a quiz on some little known legendary facts: seriously King Arthur, your spear is called Ron? + discover a churchyard in Northern Ireland where the graveyard dirt really does deliver a miracle cure.
Follow this link to access episodes of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcast. The page contains links to all our other podcast platforms. Click the player button below to hear latest show.
Hear Charles Christian on Smart Radio
The Midweek Late Lunch
Wednesdays 2:00pm to 4:00pm (UK)
The UK Chart Toppers Show
Sundays 2:00pm to 5:00pm (UK)
and on mobile...
Apple iOS App: Smart Radio GY
Android App: Smart Radio GY
TuneIn Radio App: Smart Radio GY
Weird Tales Podcast Links
The Urban Fantasist website is now averaging over 5000 page views daily and 150,000 page views a month plus over 6000 unique visitors each week.
Tel: 44(0)1986 788666
"Listening to your wonderful show now. I love the stories! Wonderful concept. Great work."
"Charles Christian defiantly makes my world a brighter, funnier place."
"Wonderful show tonight full of all the usual delights we've come to expect."
"The legendary Charles Christian at his eclectic best... his insight and humour alone make this a must-read blog."
"Charles Christian is my inner spirit animal, thank you for making me laugh."
"You always make me laugh! Thank you for brightening my day with your dark humour."
"the funny, wonderful and slightly cantankerous Charles Christian"
"Carlsberg don't make clients, but if they did... they'd be Charles Christian"
"His tech journalism is always witty. He has a talent for pricking the overblown claims of suppliers."
"Charles Christian does awesome!"
Charles Christian's Books
Can I copy content from this site?
Yes... providing you properly credit it. Urban Fantasist content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License which means it may be shared, copied, remixed or used commercially as long as Urban Fantasist or the Weird Tales Radio Show are cited as the source.
Copyright © Charles Christian
& WordsandVision Limited 2019
Tel: 44(0)1986 788666
Urban Fantasist - infotainment fuelled by green tea and dark chocolate
Contact Address: Oak Lodge, Darrow Green Road, Denton, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0AY, United Kingdom