NJ’s quirky names for the night before Halloween, and other occasions
What would you say if you saw the above scenario unfolding in your front yard on the evening of Oct. 30?
If you answered, "Oh, it must be Mischief Night," you agree with nearly 82% of our website and app readers surveyed back in 2017.
But the juvenile phenomenon of toilet papering trees and egging houses is also known to a small percentage of the population as Goosey Night — although sites like Urban Dictionary seem to think that's more of a Jersey-centric term than it really may be.
You might also think that for a state that has thumped its chest so loudly over the Jersey Devil legend, to the point where its professional hockey team is named after it, Devil's Night would be a popular choice. But that wasn't even a choice in our 2017 poll, and Jeff Deminski wrote in 2018 that Devil's Night is instead the prevailing name in the Detroit area.
Their hockey team wears red too, but it's not the same.
This Huffington Post map we reprinted in 2019 seems to suggest that outside of Devil's Night in Michigan, the night before Halloween isn't "a thing" anywhere else but New Jersey. Of course, that's nothing new for us.
Pork roll might be available in places other than the Garden State, but only in North Jersey would one dare call it Taylor Ham (as a Morris County transplant who has settled in Central Jersey — if, indeed, that exists — I've been fighting this battle for years).
And it wasn't until I started dating my now-wife, in 2008, that I heard of the Christmastime gift exchange called a White Elephant ... or is it a Pollyanna? FunAttic.com says the Pollyanna name for this Secret Santa-like swap is dominant in South Jersey and southeast Pennsylvania, which is where Kristen's family is from.
But some years we even go back and forth ourselves on what to call it. Plus, it's worth it to wonder whether the Pollyanna character is even a relevant cultural reference anymore.
One thing seems certain: The coming holidays mean a very confusing next few months depending on where you are in New Jersey.