Tag Archives: festivities
Boxing Day

Boxing Day

  Boxing Day, December 1836 – from George Cruikshank’s Comic Almanack (larger picture at the end of this article)       MEANING    Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first day (strictly, the first weekday) after Christmas Day.     ORIGIN   A Christmas-box was a box, usually of earthenware, in […]

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Cockaigne

Cockaigne

  Het Luilekkerland (1567) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-69)     Cockaigne is the name of an imaginary land of easy and luxurious living. The word seems to have first appeared in the Latin compositions of the Goliards, who were wandering students and clerics in England, France, and Germany, chiefly in the 12th and […]

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cricket

cricket

  The evolution of the cricket bat (The first cricket bat looked like a hockey stick) source: World Cricket Watch     The French ‘jeu de la crosse’ – 18th century The English game of cricket – 18th century       ♦ The name of the insect related to the grasshoppers dates back to the […]

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nightcap

nightcap

    A nightcap is a cap worn in bed to keep one’s head warm. The word is first recorded in the description and valuation, made in 1378, of the articles that were in the shop of Thomas Trewe, haberdasher of London: one dozen of white caps, called “nightcappes”, was worth 2s. 3d.. The figurative […]

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dandelion – pissenlit

dandelion – pissenlit

  the 1905 edition of Le Petit Larousse illustré, a French-language encyclopaedic dictionary published by the Éditions Larousse In 1890, Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) designed the image of la Semeuse (the Sower) blowing dandelion seeds, which accompanies the motto of the Éditions Larousse, Je sème à tout vent (I sow to the four winds).     The word dandelion is from French dent de lion, in Medieval […]

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mum’s the word

mum’s the word

    Be like Dad – Keep Mum! Careless talk costs lives! a 1940-42 British poster (source: East Carolina University - http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/10976)           To keep mum is to remain silent, especially so as not to reveal a secret. And mum’s the word, as a request or warning, means say nothing; do not […]

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Maundy

Maundy

    silver Maundy coins The effigy of the Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone four changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953.     Maundy was originally the ceremony of washing […]

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simnel cake

simnel cake

          Mothering Sunday is Mid-Lent Sunday (i.e. the fourth Sunday of Lent). It was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed that day.   The food item specially associated with Mothering Sunday is the simnel cake – and Mothering Sunday was also sometimes called Simnel […]

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fit as a fiddle

fit as a fiddle

  Caricature of Gabriel Harvey from Haue with you to Saffron-walden. Or, Gabriell Harueys hunt is vp (1596), by Thomas Nashe. Entitled The picture of Gabriell Harvey as he is readie to let fly upon Ajax, this caricature depicts him rushing to the toilet at the thought of Nashe’s publication. Ajax was a pun on a jackes, slang for a toilet (in the […]

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tennis

tennis

  Jeu de paume – France – 17th century     Paulme: feminine. The paulme of the hand; also, a ball; (and hence) also, Tennis (play;) also, the Palme tree. from A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), by Randle Cotgrave     Fourthly, the inside of the Uvea is black’d like the walls […]

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