In 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was designated as Giving Tuesday. Though not an official holiday, it was created to be a day when people give to charity, help those in need, and give back to their communities. It is based, in the words of its organizers, on “a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good.”
Giving Tuesday is preceded by but stands in contrast to two other unofficial holidays. One, Black Friday, occurs on the day after Thanksgiving and is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Black Friday has been the biggest shopping day in the U.S. since 2005, and its success led many retailers to begin opening at midnight to capitalize on consumer interest – and, later, to open on Thanksgiving Day itself. Black Friday goes hand-in-hand with another holiday, Cyber Monday, which occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving and encourages consumers to purchase items online.
Giving Tuesday was created as a response to what many see as the over-commercialization of the holiday season. Created by a partnership of tech companies and nonprofits, the first Giving Tuesday was well-covered by major media outlets and led to a resurgence in awareness about the importance of charitable giving. On the 8th annual Giving Tuesday in 2019, charities raised more than $500 million. While this pales in comparison to the amount spent on Black Friday, which typically exceeds $50 billion, it is significant nonetheless.
The Biblical Significance of Tuesday
For both Jews and Christians, designating Tuesday as a day to give to charity has special significance.
It all goes back to the Bible. In the biblical account of the third day of creation (Genesis 1:9-13), God says “it was good” twice – as opposed to the other days of creation when He says it once, and Monday, the second day, when “It was good” is not mentioned at all. On this twice-blessed day of creation, God separated the waters into the seas and, in turn, brought about dry land. He then filled the dry land with vegetation. So Jewish teaching says the double “good” of Tuesday means it is “good to heaven and good to creation,” implying that it is good both spiritually and physically – that is, good for God and good for earth’s inhabitants.
Thus, for many Jews, Tuesday is considered to be a particularly auspicious day. It’s common for Jewish people to schedule important, life-changing events for Tuesday, such as weddings, opening new businesses, or moving to new homes.
For those who give to support Israel and her people, it can also be considered a “day of double blessing.” We know God’s words in Genesis 12:3 promise blessings to those who bless Israel. For this reason, those who support Israel through charitable donations may choose Giving Tuesday as the day when they hope to receive a double portion of blessings in return for their generosity.
Tzedakah, commonly defined as the Jewish term for charity, comes from the Hebrew word tzedek, meaning “justice.” This linguistic relationship teaches us a fundamental concept about giving: It’s not just an act of mercy – it’s an act of righteousness.