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EVE OF EVE

This map shows the weird names Americans have given the night before Halloween

  • Nikhil Sonnad
By Nikhil Sonnad

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

I grew up in Michigan, so I assumed all of the US—nay, the entire English-speaking world—referred to the night before Halloween as “devil’s night.”

Turns out I was living in a geographic bubble.

Using thousands of responses collected by the Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes, Quartz has mapped the geographic breakdown of the names Americans have for All Hallows’ Eve Eve.

The concentration of pink in Michigan shows just how limited my worldview was growing up. “Devil’s night” barely makes its way across my home state’s borders. “Mischief night” has a similar concentration on the East coast, centered around Philadelphia. The only other names with a significant number of responses are ”devil’s eve” and, of all things, “cabbage night”.

The survey responses on this map have been collected since 2007, up until the present. The question was posed earlier, though, in 2003, as part of the Harvard Dialect Survey. At that time a few more responses were commonly given, like “trick night” and “goosy night.” Those appear to be dying out.

Having a name at all for this pre-pre-holiday appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon. The Brits don’t have one, for example. Indeed, on both the Cambridge and Harvard surveys, most Americans said they have no word for it. We Michiganders find that rather spooky.

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