What is the reason behind using the word eve in the following contexts?
- Christmas Eve
- New year Eve
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Its usage is centuries old as refers to its original meaning of "evening". It is now used with the connotation of evening before an "event":
c. 1200, eve "evening," especially the time between sunset and darkness, from Old English æfen, with loss of terminal -n (which, though forming part of the stem, perhaps was mistaken for an inflection), from Proto-Germanic *æbando- (cognates: Old Saxon aband, Old Frisian ewnd, Dutch avond, Old High German aband, German Abend, Old Norse aptann, Danish aften), which is of uncertain origin. Now superseded in its original sense by evening.
Specific meaning "day before a saint's day or festival" is from late 13c. Transferred sense of "the moment right before any event, etc." is by 1780. Even (n.), evening keep the original form.
Christmas Eve is Middle English Cristenmesse Even (c. 1300).
New Year's Eve c. 1300; "þer þay dronken & dalten ... on nwe gerezeuen."
It means a period time , not only refers to the night
the day before: "he always arrives on the eve of her departure"
the period immediately before something: "on the eve of the French Revolution"
the latter part of the day (the period of decreasing daylight from late afternoon until nightfall)
Source: Mnemonic Dictionary