cabbage night n Also cabbage stalk night, cabbage stump ~ chiefly NEast, Gt Lakes, now esp western and southern NEng and NYC area Cf mischief night n
Originally the night of Halloween; later a night near Halloween, often the night before, when children fling rotten cabbages against houses and often play other pranks.
1861 Daily State Gaz. & Republican (Trenton NJ) 1 Nov /1, Last night was the holiday we know as Hallow Eve, or popularly in this latitude as “Cabbage night.” We noticed sundry boys armed with cabbages. 1879 Eve. Gaz. (Pt. Jervis NY) 1 Nov 1/5, Last night was All Hallowe’en. It was also “cabbage night,” and the boys were abroad in their glory. 1888 Perry Chief (IA) [2 Nov 8]/3 (newspaperarchive.com), Boys did we have lots of fun last Wednesday [=31 Oct] night? It was cabbage night. 1889 Ft. Wayne Sentinel (IN) 30 Oct /3 (newspaperarchive.com), The average school boy does not need to be told that to-morrow night is Hallowe’en. . . He calls it “cabbage night.” 1892 Waukesha Freeman (WI) 3 Nov 1/3, Monday [=31 Oct] evening was “cabbage night.” “Bean night” would seem a more proper name to designate it, judging from the amount of beans that were thrown against windows and roofs by the youngsters. 1901 N. Adams Transcript (MA) 1 Nov 5/3, “Cabbage stalk night” is the most appropriate name for the annual festival [=Halloween] this year, for this is the way the joyous small boy refers to it. Ibid 7/4, Cabbage Stump Night. The younger element that always looks forward to Hallowe’en night as a time for revelry had its share in the celebration last night. 1901 Sandusky Daily Reg. (OH) 7 Nov 2/6, On the night of the 30th of October while walking on the streets of Put-in Bay, . . [two] young ladies employed at that place, not knowing it to be cabbage night, were tripped by a big limb which was thrown by a lad from behind a tree. 1919 Auburn Citizen (NY) 31 Oct 5/6, The new order is thusly. The 28th is Cabbage Night, the 29th Gate Night, the 30th Door-bell Night, and the 31st Ghost Night. 1927 Portsmouth Herald & Times (NH) 31 Oct 5/6, [Advt:] Once again Hallowe’en is with us, some call it “Cabbage Stump Night.” 1950 McKean Co. Democrat (Smethport PA) 26 Oct 1/1, The P.T.A. went on record . . as sponsoring “Cabbage Night” [=30 Oct] as the only night for “Trick or Treat.” 1975 WI State Jrl. (Madison) 2 Nov 3/1 swCT, Miss Moxley had left the house early Thursday evening . . on what the local children call “cabbage night,” a pre-Halloween occasion for pranks. 1976 Bennington Banner (VT) 6 Oct 16/6, In what looked like a preview of Cabbage Night, pranksters had wrapped straw in circles of wire and placed the wreath around a cement post by the tennis courts, then lit it. 1977–78 Foster Lexical Variation 75 NJ, Cabbage Night, the customary name [for the night before Halloween] in most of Bergen County, is said to refer to the custom of leaving skunk cabbages on neighbors’ porches. 1978–80 DARE File csWI, ‘Cabbage night’ was known and used in Dane County in the 1930s. The kids from Madison used it more than the ones from Cottage Grove; csOH, Cabbage night—that’s what people in Cincinnati call the night before Halloween; nwMA (as of c1915), Here in [the] Berkshire Hills the night before Hallowe’en is called Cabbage Stump Night. . . Today there is very little cabbage stump throwing. 1999 DARE File—Internet [Boston Online The Wicked Good Guide to Boston English], Cabbage Night—In the western suburbs, the night before Halloween and a time for throwing cabbages, eggs and the like. 2001 Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield MA)24 Dec sec B 1/4, The teen-ager . . is also being investigated for other North County arsons, including a fire on Cabbage Stalk Night (Oct. 30). 2002 DARE File CT, In Connecticut in the 60’s, it was “cabbage night”, a night of mischief.2003 Vaux–Golder Harvard Dial. Survey (Internet), What do you call the night before Halloween? [1.68% of 10,640 infs responded with cabbage night, concentrated in VT and adjacent eNY, sNEng, and NYC and environs.] 2007 in 2017 DARE File—Internet KY, I grew up in Northern KY and we called it cabbage night and we would go out and soap up car windows or use wax and mark up car windows. 2009 AmSp 84.440 NJ, The day before Halloween is referred to as Mischief Night everywhere in the state with two exceptions. . . Cabbage Night is found only in Bergen County. 2014 in 2017 DARE File—Internet eNY, I grew up in a small town in upstate NY in Washington County. Everyone knows that the night before Halloween is ‘Cabbage Night’.