Tibb’s Eve: A Newfoundland Thing
Tibb’s Eve. Tipp’s Eve. Tip’s Eve. Even Tipsy Eve. It doesn’t matter what you call it – it’s December 23rd in Newfoundland and it’s time to have a drink.
Every year on the eve of Christmas Eve people in Newfoundland get the party started. Family and friends are home from the mainland and that calls for a tipple or two. Downtown is on wheels and it’s usually a good time to catch a show. All the best bands have gigs on the go. But how did this yearly party night begin?
In the lead up to the holidays, Advent is a sober, religious time of year. It’s all about prepping and waiting for the celebration. Denying yourself so that you can really give’r when the big day arrives. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, the good people of Newfoundland are jonesing for a drink. It used to be that they would wait until Christmas Day to imbibe but sometime in the mid-20th century people had had enough and made up the holiday of Tibb’s Eve as an excuse to crack open the bottle two days early.
Why Tibb’s Eve?
Why Tibb? The word is archaic slang for a promiscuous woman. Tibb was often used as the name of a loose-moraled woman in 17th century English plays – she was often the comic relief. Adults could refer to Saint Tibb, knowing it would go over the heads of kids, who thought she was a real saint.
So then Tibb’s Eve referred to a non-time, like saying the twelfth of never. A good enough time for a drink if ever there was one.
It’s yet another one of those uniquely Newfoundland things that I love about this place.