What is the reason behind using the word eve in the following contexts?

  1. Christmas Eve
  2. New year Eve
  • 3
    Didn't you get any clues from the dictionary?
    – JHCL
    Nov 5 '15 at 7:12
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of word meaning 'the day before'
    – deadrat
    Nov 5 '15 at 7:43
  • 2
    This is why we use comments, post a link to a dictionary. This is general reference, at the very most migrate the question to ELL English Language Learners If users want to be only helpful then they can post an answer as "community wiki", they will receive no credit on their rep but their answer will help the OP.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5 '15 at 7:57
  • 2
    @Josh61 where is the research on this question?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5 '15 at 8:02
  • 2
    @Josh61 She asks if you can use eve for birthdays!! And you replied ‘Yes, I guess you can’ and then you provide her with a dictionary link to The Free Dictionary. So, is the OP really concerned with the etymology or with its usage? Please note she doesn't mention "origin", the OP is asking "why" eve is used in these two particular expressions. Two expressions that are extremely common in the English language. It's PURE general reference. Now, if the OP wants to modify and improve the question, I think she should do so
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5 '15 at 8:19

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":

Eve (n.):

  • 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 Now superseded in its original sense by evening.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."


  • 2
    We do genref now? Nov 5 '15 at 7:14
  • 1
    On the eve of my birthday is an expression that is used....ever heard of it?google.it/…
    – user66974
    Nov 5 '15 at 8:21
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - I never wrote about 'birthday eve'. But why not?google.it/…
    – user66974
    Nov 5 '15 at 8:25
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - are you being difficult?
    – user66974
    Nov 5 '15 at 8:55
  • 1
    @J.R. - "such a fundamental question" was put on hold. My answer addresses the question actually asked. My comments answer its extensions. The second answer addresses its current usage. If it is reopened it can be updated.
    – user66974
    Nov 5 '15 at 9:18

It means a period time , not only refers to the night

  1. the day before: "he always arrives on the eve of her departure"

  2. the period immediately before something: "on the eve of the French Revolution"

  3. the latter part of the day (the period of decreasing daylight from late afternoon until nightfall)

Source: Mnemonic Dictionary


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