Down the Rabbit Hole

This morning I saw that “Tibb’s Eve” was trending, and I had absolutely no idea what that meant. This led me down a whole rabbit hole of various things, leading to my eventual finding out what the day was, and its origin. So let me tell you all about “Tibb’s Eve.”

So! First of all, you know how “Parson Brown” isn’t an actual person being referenced in Walking in a Winter Wonderland? He’s just sort of the generic idea of a priest. Similar to how “Karen” these days doesn’t refer to an actual person, just the idea of the lady who wants to speak to your manager. Well similarly, “Tib” used to refer to the idea of a lady who did certain things for money. So there was a joke that there could never be a “Saint Tib,” since they’re all very unsaintly. And thus no Saint Tibb’s Day, or Tibb’s Eve.

This meant that instead of saying “when pigs fly” to describe a time that would never happen, people would say “it’ll happen on Tibb’s Eve.” Now that alone is pretty neat, and a cool historical-pop-culture fact, but it doesn’t explain why it’s trending today of all days. So we need to dig a little deeper.

Back in the day, there were lots of different ways to say that something would never happen, and sometimes people would call you out on Tibb’s Eve, and ask when that specifically was. So the answer of the time was “neither before nor after Christmas,” or “it falls between the old and new year.” This gave the day a sort of winter-holiday association, and this meant that when the Europeans came to Canada, they brought that “Tibb’s Eve” spirit with them.

Now this “holiday” is celebrated mostly in Newfoundland, which will make sense when you find out why it’s celebrated on the 23rd. You see, December also happens to be the season of Advent, during which, practicing Christians aren’t supposed to be drinking at all. That ends on Christmas, but that also means that lots of people are always looking for excuses to push that earlier and earlier. So because “Tibb’s Eve” kinda sounds like “tipsy,” (I’m not kidding about this) people in Newfoundland decided that this day needed to have a specific celebration, and since it was already associated with the holiday, how about we just put it a couple days before Christmas, so we can celebrate this very real holiday by getting tipsy, and it’s totally okay.

So yeah, the day literally comes from a bunch of people who wanted an excuse to get drunk a little sooner than they normally would, and as neat as the origins of the phrase are, I was definitely a little disappointed once I reached the end of the rabbit hole.

But hey! Maybe you’ve been looking for an excuse to imbibe this season, and here you go. It’s mostly only celebrated in Newfoundland, but I’m not going to stop you if you really want to honour this very real and very holy day.