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.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Charles Christian was an English barrister, Reuters correspondent-turned editor, author, blogger, podcaster, award-winning tech journalist, storyteller, and sometime werewolf hunter, who sadly passed away in 2022.
Prior to his sudden death he completed one of his largest works to date: The Witches Almanac, the definitive guide on the history of magic and folklore, including 359 of the most important witches and sorcerers in history.
This site also has links to Charles' books and the Weird Tales Show videos and podcasts.
Latest Video Post
Latest book: The Wold Newton Triangle
Virtual Tip Jar
You can now support Urban Fantasist, its podcasts and its new video channel through our Virtual Tip Jars on PayPal and Patreon, giving you a choice of ad hoc or regular payments.
Tel: +44(0)1986 788666
Tel/Txt: +44(0)7786 738172
WhatsApp etc: +44(0)7786 738172
"The only way to keep folklore alive is to share it" ...comment from viewer on YouTube channel
"Charles Christian... a man of paranormality" ...Howard Hughes, Talk Radio UK
"Cynicism has always been a part of your (very impressive) brand" ...Kirk Fackre
"Your storytelling set the scene for a fascinating evening of stunning music and terrifying drama" ...Chris Caswell
"I can't help myself. Yesterday, I went back to this post over and over again and it made me laugh out loud each time. So now I'm bringing it to all my followers with the recommendation to follow Charles Christian because he posts lots of stuff that brightens my day and will brighten yours, too" ...LinkedIn commentator
"A great witty intelligence in the world. We need more CC and less monkey-brained politicians" ...Julia Bohanna
"I love your posts, always something interesting to read and often funny" ...Karen Morton
"I was saddened to see you have retired your podcast. I never would have found your books without it. Well if a good story deserves rereading a good podcast demands relistening. Looking forward to your next stage with the time this change will afford you. Happy Trails, Pardner" ...Jonathan Neuhaus
"You are a great and generous host" ...Patti Negri, The Hollywood Psychic
"I host a daily morning show in Las Vegas and I like your shows very much. I love the way you pace your voice and thoughts is fantastic and you have a way of making your guest interviews sound more like conversations. Just wanted to let you know" ...Clay Baker
"The ever wonderful Charles Christian and his Weird Tales Show"...Into The Portal Podcast
"The Master of Mysteries & Folklore" ...Fantasy Radio UK
"The witty and knowledgeable Charles Christian."
"We poled our fans on their favorite podcasts and that's how I heard of Weird Tales Show. You are well loved by the geekiverse, and fans of folklore history and monsters!"
"Charles Christian is really out there cool."
"Charles Christian defiantly makes my world a brighter, funnier place."
"The legendary Charles Christian at his eclectic best..."
"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"
Charles Christian's Books