gate night n Also front gate night chiefly Nth, N Midl east of Missip R; esp seNY Cf mischief night n
A night near, usu before, Halloween, when children remove gates and sometimes play other pranks.
1867 Daily OH Statesman (Columbus) [2 Nov 3]/3, We have, in Columbus, festivals unknown, we believe, anywhere else. . . Last night was gate night, and the way the little cusses did perform the ceremony of taking gates off their hinges and carrying them off was a caution to carpenters. 1873 Cornell Times 1.20 cNY, We have not heard many complaints on the part of citizens since Hallowe’en, for the severe letting alone they got from the students “Gate Night.” 1891 Hamilton Daily Democrat(OH) 31 Oct /1 (newspaperarchive.com), Last night was gate night and the usual number of gates were missing this morning. ’Squire Meckley had his front steps taken. 1902 Anaconda Std. (MT) 31 Oct 7/1, Wednesday night was called clothesline night, Thursday night was doorbell night, and this evening is known as gate night, and all loose gates are likely to be missing in the morning. 1904 DN 2.397 OH, PA, Gate-night. . . The night before Hallowe’en, i.e., the night of 30th Oct., when gates are carried off by children. 1916 Patriot (Harrisburg PA) 28 Oct 1/2, The official list of the days celebrated, according to an authoritative source is as follows: October 21, Ash Can Night; October 23, Front Gate [Night]; [etc]. 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. 1919 Logansport Daily Tribune (IN) [31 Oct 5]/3 (newspaperarchive.com), “Gate Night,” as the night prior to Hallowe’en is commonly called, passed quietly in Logansport. . . However, it is safe to say that several residents will wake up this morning to find that during the night their front gate has been removed. 1934 New North (Rhinelander WI) 1 Nov 1/1, Tuesday [=30 Oct] night was gate night for the Hallowe’en revelers and the usual pranks were played. . . Signs were taken from their usual places, . . and other mischievous acts committed. . . The soaping of windows is still one of the most popular Hallowe’en gate night amusements. 1947 Bridgeport Post (CT) 31 Oct 1/3, Tonight’s traditional celebration will be a sort of combination job, earlier observances of such cherished occasions as “Doorbell Night” and “Gate Night” having been retarded somewhat by unfavorable weather conditions. 1954 Hench Coll. NYC, Where they grew up, Halloween night was known as gate night, the night youngsters took front yard gates off their hinges. 1963 Bakersfield Californian (CA) 28 Oct 12/5, [Caption:] The youngsters prepare for Noble PTA’s Halloween-Gate Night carnival to be held on Wednesday [=30 Oct]. 1985 NADS Letters seNY (as of c1945), Gate night was a great night! . . Some time before Halloween. . . we’d sneak up on front gates, unhinge them, furtively drop them on the ground or place them on a lawn, then wing away in the dark. . . This took place in . . a working class neighborhood of modest single and two- or three-family homes. Ibid cwNJ (as of 1950s), On gate night he and his friends would take gates off their hinges and throw them in neighboring yards to confuse people. [He] also remembers taking bean poles from farm fields and using them to overturn outhouses on gate night. 1988 DARE File seNY (as of 1960s), The night before Halloween was called gate night. 2003 Vaux–Golder Harvard Dial. Survey (Internet), What do you call the night before Halloween? [0.39% of 10,640 infs responded with gate night, scattered chiefly Nth, N Midl, esp seNY.] 2016 DARE File—Internet seNY, We have [in Nanuet] special measures in place for both Gate Night, the night before Halloween, and on Halloween.