an inquiry into the various meanings of ‘green man’

three meanings: 1/ in outdoor pageants: a man dressed in greenery, representing a wild man of the woods—2/ in inn names and signs: a forester—3/ in medieval English churches: a representation of a man’s face composed of, surrounded by, or sprouting foliage or branches

Read More

origin of ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘to go Dutch’

USA—‘to go Dutch’ (1907): to have every participant pay their own expenses, or share expenses equally—via ‘to go Dutch treat’ (1887), from ‘Dutch treat’ (1873): a meal, etc., at which each participant pays their share of the expenses—from a German practice

Read More

How ‘blue Monday’ came to denote a gloomy Monday.

A calque of German ‘blauer Montag’, ‘blue Monday’ originally denoted a Monday on which people chose not to work as a result of excessive indulgence over the course of the weekend. Under the influence of the adjective ‘blue’ in the sense ‘dismal’, it came to denote a Monday that is depressing or trying.

Read More

British and French Twelfth-Day traditions

Twelfth Day denotes the twelfth day after Christmas, i.e. 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated, and which was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (Epiphany denotes the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; via Old-French and Anglo-Norman forms such as epyphane (Modern […]

Read More

origin of ‘Shrovetide’ (‘les jours gras’)

Etymologically, ‘Shrovetide’ denotes the period during which it was customary to attend confession in preparation for Lent—but this period was also marked by feasting before the Lenten fast.

Read More

the Christian-Latin origin of ‘Noël’

French—from the noun use of the Latin adjective ‘natalis’ (from Christian-Latin ‘natalis dies’, ‘day of birth’), denoting the festival of the nativity of Christ

Read More