What Is the Day Before Thanksgiving Called: Unwrapping the Name of This Festive Eve 2024

What Is the Day Before Thanksgiving Called? I’ve gathered information to inform you that the day before Thanksgiving is often referred to as Blackout Wednesday or Drinksgiving, known for its high-spirited gatherings and significant bar traffic.

Key Takeaways

  • Blackout Wednesday refers to the heavy drinking that occurs on the night before Thanksgiving.
  • It’s recognized for its social aspect as people reunite with friends and family.
  • Law enforcement is typically heightened to manage the risks associated with the day’s traditions.

History and Origin

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The day before Thanksgiving, known colloquially as Blackout Wednesday, has a rich backdrop rooted deeply in the history of Thanksgiving itself. Let’s explore how this occasion developed from a historic feast to a part of the contemporary holiday calendar.

Native American Tribes and the Pilgrims

When I think about the origins of Thanksgiving, my mind invariably goes to the autumn of 1621, when the Pilgrims at Plymouth celebrated their first successful harvest with the help of the local Native American tribes, particularly the Wampanoag. This alliance was crucial, as the Wampanoag, led by Chief Massasoit, taught the struggling settlers valuable survival skills.

The First Thanksgiving

The communal meal that followed is well-known as the First Thanksgiving. It lasted three days and involved approximately 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag people. Records from Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow and the colony’s governor, William Bradford, provide insights into this pivotal event in Massachusetts. Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe who spoke English, played a key role in the Pilgrims’ settlement and survival.

National Recognition and Evolution

This formative event remained an informal tradition until it gained national recognition during the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving to unify the nation. Presidential declarations, including those by George Washington and later Franklin D. Roosevelt, who fixed the holiday’s date to the fourth Thursday in November, have shaped its evolution. It wasn’t until activists and writers like Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for its formal establishment that it became the Thanksgiving we recognize today. History also acknowledges the National Day of Mourning, observed by some Native Americans on the same day to remember the suffering of their ancestors following European settlement.

Cultural Significance and Traditions

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Every year, I find that the day before Thanksgiving, often called Thanksgiving Eve, is imbued with its own unique cultural significance. It is an overture to the grand symphony of traditions that Thanksgiving brings.

Modern Celebrations

On Thanksgiving Eve, I notice many people travel to be with family and friends, kicking off the holiday season with excitement and anticipation. Cities and towns often hold events that bring the community together, like charity runs or Thanksgiving high school football games, which have become important traditions in themselves.

Food and Feasting

The evening’s food preparations are a prelude to Thanksgiving’s feast. Kitchens buzz with activity as families prepare for the next day’s meal. Practices like brining the turkey or pre-baking desserts make this night a crucial part of the culinary experience. It’s also a time when I often get together with close relatives to share a special meal, sometimes featuring dishes like pasta or seafood to counterpoint the next day’s traditional spread. Staples like cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are prepared, the stock for the gravy simmers, and the scent of stuffing begins to fill homes.

Parades and Public Events

One of the most iconic events associated with Thanksgiving is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. While the parade itself is on Thanksgiving Day, the excitement and preparation clearly overflow into the preceding evening, with New Yorkers and visitors alike catching glimpses of the giant balloons being inflated and the elaborate floats coming to life. It’s a public spectacle that brings together millions of spectators and viewers, all eager to kick off the holiday in grand style.

Thanksgiving Eve

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As we approach Thanksgiving’s familiar warmth and cheer, we are met with an evening just as entrenched in modern tradition. The night before, known as Thanksgiving Eve, is recognized for both its celebratory gatherings and noteworthy cautionary aspects.

Blackout Wednesday

I’ve learned that Thanksgiving Eve is often called Blackout Wednesday, particularly among young adults and college students. This nickname comes from the heavy drinking that’s associated with the night, to the point where some individuals may experience memory loss, or “black out”. The phenomenon originally named due to the high alcohol consumption also gives rise to concern among police departments, especially in cities like Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they remain vigilant to keep the streets safe during this spike in festive indulgence.

National Festivities

On a lighter note, Thanksgiving Eve sets the stage for a variety of nationwide festivities. This includes last-minute shopping rushes for the perfect mashed potatoes to grace Thanksgiving tables. It’s also a day when people turn their attention to the NFL, as football games are a staple for many American families. The holiday rivalry matches, sometimes between historic competitors like Yale and Princeton, mark a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. Meanwhile, retail stores buzz with activity, signaling the nearly seamless transition into Black Friday—the supreme shopping day for deal seekers.

Socio-Political Aspects

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In my exploration of the day before Thanksgiving, I find it deeply interwoven with socio-political fabrics, from Native American viewpoints to the legal framework that shapes this occasion.

Native American Perspectives

Though not formally recognized for its significance by many, the day before Thanksgiving bears a special meaning for Native Americans, particularly to tribes such as the Wampanoag. To my understanding, some Native Americans observe this time as a reminder of their ancestors’ hospitality towards the early settlers—an event that ultimately led to complex consequences for their communities. What stands out to me is the National Day of Mourning, observed on Thanksgiving Day by Native Americans to honor their ancestors and the struggles following European colonization.

Holiday Legislation

When I think about the legislative aspect, I’m charmed by the story behind “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—not just a nursery rhyme, but linked to Thanksgiving through its author, Sarah Josepha Hale. She championed for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday, persistently advocating for this cause until Congress finally established it in 1863 during the Civil War. This legislation has since dictated how the holiday, and implicitly the day before, is formally recognized across the United States.

FAQ – What Is the Day Before Thanksgiving Called?

Is there any significance to Thanksgiving Eve?

While not an official holiday, Thanksgiving Eve is significant for many as it marks the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday period. People often use this day for travel, last-minute grocery shopping, and meal preparation for the next day’s feast.

Are there any traditional activities or customs on Thanksgiving Eve?

Common activities include family gatherings, baking pies, and preparing side dishes. Some people might attend “Friendsgiving” dinners, go out to bars or social events, or participate in community service.

Is Thanksgiving Eve a busy travel day?

Yes, Thanksgiving Eve is known to be one of the busiest travel days of the year in the United States, as many people travel to spend the holiday with family and friends.


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Martin Lange
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