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Beggars Night

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Speaking of weird Halloween stuff, I don’t believe I’ve yet complained/alerted the rest of the country about a local bit of nonsense called beggars night. Beggars night, which apparently exists only in Central Ohio, the greater Des Moines area, and some towns in Western New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, is a specified day and time in which Trick or treating takes place. It can take place on all hallows eve, but it can also take place on any day earlier in the week. Making things even weirder, the dates are different in each town on any given year. There’s no pattern to the distribution of beggar’s nights, nor is any explanation offered. When natives of these parts are called to give an account of this practice, they have nothing to say. I’ve demanded answers from locals and most just shrug it off, but I’ve heard a variety of theories. One is that moving the activity away from Halloween was for safety: less drunk out on these days. Another theory is that this was designed to confuse interlopers (quite possibly those “urban” kids from the big city) seeking better candy from richer people in a safer environment than their own. (Whatever plausibility this theory one had, now that local beggars night schedules are posted widely on the internet it would seem to provide opportunities for enterprising trick or treaters to get a much more impressive haul.)

My googling efforts have not produced convincing accounts of what the hell is going on here. The Des Moines public library present a theory here. Further explanations welcome.

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