also Hallow-e'en, Hallow e'en, 1781, in a Scottish context, the word and the magical lore about the date were popularized by Burns' poem (1785, and he attached a footnote explaining it), but it probably dates to 17c. in Scotland and is attested as the name of a tune in 1724. The tune is mentioned again in an English-Scots songbook ("The Chearful Companion") in 1783, and Burns was not the first to describe the customs in print.
Hallow-E'en, or Holy Eve, is the evening previous to the celebration of All Saints. That it is propitious to the rites of divination, is an opinion still common in many parts of Scotland. [John Main, footnote to his poem "Hallow-E'en," Glasgow, 1783]
It is a Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even "Eve of All Saints, last night of October" (1550s), the last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year's Night, a night for witches. A pagan holiday given a cursory baptism. Otherwise obsolete hallow (n.) "holy person, saint," is from the source of hallow (v.). Also see even (n.), and compare hallows. Hallow-day for "All-Saints Day" is from 1590s; earlier was halwemesse day (late 13c.).
early 15c., "a cheat, a mean ruse," from Old North French trique "trick, deceit, treachery, cheating," from trikier "to deceive, to cheat," variant of Old French trichier "to cheat, trick, deceive," of uncertain origin, probably from Vulgar Latin *triccare, from Latin tricari "be evasive, shuffle," from tricæ "trifles, nonsense, a tangle of difficulties," of unknown origin.
Meaning "a roguish prank" is recorded from 1580s; sense of "the art of doing something" is first attested 1610s. Meaning "prostitute's client" is first attested 1915; earlier it was U.S. slang for "a robbery" (1865).
To do the trick "accomplish one's purpose" is from 1812; to miss a trick "fail to take advantage of opportunity" is from 1889; from 1872 in reference to playing the card-game of whist, which might be the original literal sense. Trick-or-treat as a children's Halloween pastime is recorded from 1927 in Canada. Trick question is from 1907.
c. 1300, "evil condition, misfortune; hardship, need, want; wickedness, wrongdoing, evil," from Old French meschief "misfortune, harm, trouble; annoyance, vexation" (12c., Modern French méchef), verbal noun from meschever "come or bring to grief, be unfortunate" (opposite of achieve), from mes- "badly" (see mis- (2)) + chever "happen, come to a head," from Vulgar Latin *capare "head," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
Meaning "harm or evil considered as the work of some agent or due to some cause" is from late 15c. Sense of "playful malice" is recorded by 1784. The meaning has softened with time; in Middle English to be full of mischief was to be miserable; to make mischief was "to result in misery."
Mischief Night in 19c. England was the eve of May Day and of Nov. 5, both major holidays, and perhaps the original point was pilfering for the next day's celebration and bonfire; but in Yorkshire, Scotland, and Ireland the night was Halloween. The useful Middle English verb mischieve (early 14c.), used by Skelton and Gavin Douglas, has, for some reason, fallen from currency.