Tag Archives: festivities
promenade concert

promenade concert

  the Proms (2015) – photograph: BBC       A promenade concert is a concert at which some of the audience stand rather than sit.   In French, promenade is attested in 1599 in the sense of a place for promenading, and in 1671 in that of a leisurely walk. With addition of the […]

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the rub

the rub

  title page of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (1623)       MEANING   the central problem or difficulty in a situation     ORIGIN   The rub is from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (around 1600), by William Shakespeare (1564-1616): To be, or not to be: that is the […]

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green man

green man

  This character, which is that of a wild or savage man, was very common in the pageants of former times, and seems to have been very popular. from The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, by Joseph Strutt (edited by William Hone – 1838)       PAGEANTS   In Tudor and […]

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cock-a-hoop

cock-a-hoop

  cock-throwing in The Four Stages of Cruelty: First Stage of Cruelty (1751) by William Hogarth (1697-1764) - image: Tate Galleries       MEANING   extremely and obviously pleased, especially about an achievement     ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   This adjective is from the 16th-century phrase to set cock a hoop, to set (the) cock on (the) hoop, […]

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red-letter day

red-letter day

  Calendar page for December from an illuminated Book of Hours (circa 1460). Special feasts are marked out in red ink. Photograph: University of Glascow Amongst the notable feasts for December, as shown here, are Saint Nicholas (December 6), the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and Saint Nicasius (December 14). To the […]

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Twelfth cake

Twelfth cake

    Twelfth Day is the twelfth day after Christmas, 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated. It was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (The Epiphany, from Greek epiphainein meaning reveal, is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.) Twelfth Night […]

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February

February

      February is from classical Latin Februārius, a noun use of the adjective in mēnsis Februārius (mēnsis = month). This adjective is from the plural noun februa (singular februum), meaning means of purification, expiatory offerings. The Roman festival of purification and expiation was held on the 15th of this month. The origin of […]

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The months in Old English

The months in Old English

  Calling in the gleaners (Le Rappel des glaneuses – 1859) by Jules Breton (1827-1906) – Musée d’Orsay, Paris     The months were not as precisely defined as they are today. They were in particular periods of pre-Christian festivals such as Yule and of agricultural activities such as the harvest, governed by the rhythm […]

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Pi Day

Pi Day

  Pi Day, the celebration date of the numerical value of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is held annually on 14 March, because 3/14 spells out the first three digits of π, or pi, which are 3.14. It was originally a US-based initiative, hence the American date format, 3/14. […]

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rosemary

rosemary

  Rosmarinus officinalis - Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     Rosemary is an evergreen aromatic shrub of the mint family, native to southern Europe. The narrow leaves are used as a culinary herb, in perfumery, and as an emblem of remembrance. (Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis, family Labiatae)   The word is apparently a folk-etymological […]

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