Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mischief Night

When Ike was in the White House, and my brother and I were in short-pants, the night of misbehavior before Hallowe’en was known as Cabbage Night.   It later turned out that this designation is extremely restricted geographically -- our own New Jersey town and surrounding boroughs.   More widely it is known as Mischief Night; in some places, Beggars Night or Bakers Night;  and in Detroit, appropriately and depressingly, Devil’s Night.

In France, in recent years, it is New Year’s Eve, or what the French call Saint-Sylvestre, that witnesses such mischief  -- and alas, more along the lines of Detroit’s signature arson, than the toilet-paper-and-shaving-cream festivities that annoyed the homeowners and delighted their offspring, back in our day.   There, the burnt-sacrifice of choice is:  automobiles.
In the past couple of years, the toll has apparently declined;  though it is difficult to know, since the French press has long been squirrelly about releasing accurate figures.   The matter is especially sensitive because of a certain ethnic dimension, unique to France.   And this year, there is some anxiety that the practice might spread to the Tea-Party-like Breton “Redcaps”, who have been obstreperous of late.

Menace sur les radars à la Saint-Sylvestre
Le feu couve toujours chez les «bonnets rouges». Les préfets veulent éviter un pic de vandalisme pour les fêtes.
Manuel Valls appelle à la mobilisation générale des forces de l'ordre pour une Saint-Sylvestre à haut risque.

We devoutly hope that the revelers this year will restrict themselves to getting smashed themselves, and not indulge in smashing other things.

For the whole suite of our musings upon festal days, try these:

Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :

[Update, New Year’s Day 2014]  Le bilan:

Manuel Valls a annoncé ce soir que 1067 véhicules ont été brûlés la nuit dernière en France, à partir des données des préfectures. Le bilan porte sur les faits commis entre le 31 décembre à 18h et le 1er janvier à 06h.
Manuel Valls a précisé que ce chiffre était en baisse de 10,6% par rapport au Nouvel An de 2013

Well,  good.  Now that that’s over, the Ministre de l’Intérieur can get back to focusing on the real problem now facing France:  how to suppress the quenelle.

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