Black Wednesday

If you are returning to your hometown for Thanksgiving, you might find yourself faced with a serious pre-Thanksgiving question: To participate in Black Wednesday, or sit at home and watch reruns of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (yes, that show is still on).

Black Wednesday, for the uninitiated, is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It’s also known as Blackout Wednesday, or Drinksgiving, or even Thanksgiving Eve. If you do a search for Black Wednesday, you’ll come up with a lot of depressing news about economic downfall in Britain. But even if you didn’t know that the pre-holiday celebration had a name, it’s kind of like porn. You know it when you see it.

To get a handle on just how important Black Wednesday is to the ever mysterious segment of the population known as “millennials,” Nielsen — the same group that surveys what people watch on TV — conducted a Black Wednesday study, Spirits Business reports. It found that around 20 percent of people over 21 years old plan to go to a restaurant, bar, or a nightclub the day before Thanksgiving. Millennials were 27 percent of that group, and just over 40 percent of them reported they were going to hit their neighborhood bar. That puts Black Wednesday as the second most popular local bar night in the country, just after Halloween and just ahead of New Year’s.

The baby boomers don’t show up with nearly the same force, but then again, they are the ones millennials are returning to.

The true origins of Black Wednesday are lost to history, but the earliest entry for the term on Urban Dictionary hints at its provenance: “Nov 22nd Day in Chicago where all the students come home from college for the holidays; the Biggest College Party night of the year.”

Everyone is returning to their hometown after spending months away at college or at their new swanky jobs. Then they run into all of the people they avoided in high school. Or they are seeing the 32 percent of their high school friends who never left their parent’s basement. Either way, it’s a reunion of sorts, and reunions call for alcohol.

Here’s what Nielsen found people will be drinking on Black Wednesday: 43 percent will drink beer, 33 percent will drink cocktails, 29 percent will drink table wine, and 14 percent will drink straight spirits. No matter what people drink, they will drink a variety of things rather than sticking to one beverage.

Why is it such a big drinking night? Maybe it’s a Russian Olympic doping situation, where it just takes a little extra juice to make it through the holiday. How else will you deal with everyone from your childhood that Facebook won’t let you forget?

Regardless, when Black Wednesday turns to Thanksgiving Thursday, you’re going to need a little hair of the dog. That, my friends, is what Thanksgiving cocktails are for.