Monday, 25 May 2009

Origin and Meaning of Honeymoon

I thought this one would be an easy one; but not so, there are a number of interpretations as to when this word originated and what it means.
Without thinking too much about it, my interpretation was that a honeymoon was that period of time after getting married, when you went off on holiday. The purpose being to get to know your new wife intimately without unwanted people around. So, the way I looked at it, there had to be a holiday before there was a honeymoon, which cannot be true. A honeymoon in my mind has now been redefined to a promised period of harmony, happiness, delight and pleasure. (Promised, as this is not always true). The period of happiness or honeymoon cannot be a function of the ability to afford a holiday. Therefore my subjective interpretation is that a honeymoon is the short period of happiness after getting married, prior to the realities of life kicking in and causing a less happier period, whether you go away on holiday or not.
Ok, now for the origin part. I could find 3 possible sources for the origin and meaning.
Version 1.
The most popular version, and the easiest to understand, is that Parents of the married couple were to supply a month’s honey wine (mead) for consumption by the married couple (Honey and moon, a month). Some sources maintain it was as much as they could drink, others say it was a glass each per day. Why? Most popular reference states the mead was there to increase the libido and fertility of the couple.
Version 2
Another version is that the name originates from the Norse word “hjunottsmanathr” meaning to kidnap. What would happen is that the future groom would abduct a lady from a neighboring village and they would hide away for a period of time. Her safety was assured , and she was returned either when the prospective brides parents stopped looking for her, or after conception had taken place, which would be known after a month.
Version 3
This one is often quoted, a passage from Richard Huloet’s Abecedarium Anglico Latinum stating that a honeymoon “ was a sardonic reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon”.
Good place to start digging is Wikipedia. The above needs to be refined.
Image from Wikipedia

Roman Mythology : Janus god of gates, doors , beginnings and endings

Janus, the mythological “god of doors, gates, beginnings and endings”. This is the definition most commonly found.
Firstly, name is from Latin, Ianus.
Janus is from Roman mythology, and unlike the majority of Roman mythological deities there is no Greek origin or equivalent.
A number of dictionaries refer to “gates and doors” and do not give much attention to the “Beginnings an Endings” part. The beginnings and endings appear to refer to a transition process, both tangible and abstract.
Examples: The progress or transition from the past to the future
Births and marriages.
Janus is usually depicted with two faces, one facing forwards, the other backwards, depicting his gift of looking into the past and the future. Some references say the one face was bearded and the other clean-shaven. But, a number of images depict both faces fully bearded. Maybe this morphed with the passing of time. Some references refer to four faces.
Anyhow, The month of January is named after Janus, being the beginning or entrance to the New Year.
The word Janitor also originates from Janus, as the keeper or custodian of halls.
He was often depicted holding a key, as he was the protector of the King’s treasure.
When Rome was at war, which was probably very often during these times, the doors to the temple of Janus ( Ianus Geminus, or Portae Belli, the Gates of War? ) were kept open, and closed in the time of peace. Why? Could not really determine why…..
For detailed information, Wikipedia is a good place to start.
Image from Wikipedia

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Origin and meaning of the names of the Months of the year.

Where do the names of the months originate and what do they mean. Short summary of each one with the birthstones and flowers associated with each month.

January, the first month of the year was named after the Roman god Janus. He was the god of gateways and doors and the custodian of entrances and halls. January, the first month of the year, being the gateway to the new year. Origin of the word Janitor
Birthstone – Garnet representing consistency
Flower – Carnation / Snowdrop

The second month of the year and the shortest. From Latin Februum, meaning purification. The Romans had a purification festival on the 15th of February each year. ( Oxford refers to a “February face” ? )
Birthstone – Amethyst
Flower - Violet and Primrose

Also originates from early Roman times and named after Mars (Martius) the Roman god of war. March is the first day of spring in the Northern Henmisphere, and in days passed it meant the start of the military campaign season.
Marching off to war?
Birthstone – Bloodstone/aquamarine meaning courage
Flower – Daffodil

Bit of an uncertainty here, but mostly attributed to the Latin word Aprilis, meaning to open. That time of the year when flowers start to bloom. Roman goddess associated with this month was Venus.
Birthstone – Diamond
Flower – Daisy or sweet pea.

Not much about May. Originally named after the Roman goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, also known as the Greek goddess Maia, whose festival was held in May. ( Will look for more detail later)
Birthstone – Emerald, meaning love and success
Flower – Lily of the Valley

Names after the Roman goddess Juno, Junius. She was also known as the goddess of marriage. It was considered good luck to be married during this month, and a large number of people were married in June.
Birthstone – Pearl and Moonstone meaning health and longevity
Flower - Rose.

This post is getting a bit too long, will split in two and do the balance a bit later
Reference: Wikipedia and Oxford Dictionary

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Interesting Trivia : Statues of Hero on a Horse

Why do some horses have all four legs on the ground, some have one leg in the air and others with both legs in the air?
This explanation from an email I received.

“If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.”

I don’t know whether this is true or not, make your own decision
Image from Wikipedia

Catch 22 : Origin, Meaning and Example

What does Catch 22 mean? Origin, meaning and examples?.
The easy part is the origin. Catch 22 refers to the novel by Joseph Heller , (with the same name), first published in 1961. So, as sayings go, this is a relatively new one.
For starters and to get the show on the road, the following passage from the novel

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed."

This is the most frequently cited passage that one finds on the Internet that endeavors to define Catch 22. It is not the only one; there are a number of examples in the novel.
Now the meaning part.
A Catch 22 situation is a lose-lose or a no-win situation. One gets involved in a circular reasoning exercise with no logical or practical answer. Any which way you lose. In the novel the Catch 22 principle is directed towards Government and specifically Military bureaucracy, but the concept is used oftentimes in ordinary day-to-day experiences.
The word catch appears to mean a snag or a problem. Oxford Dictionary as follows “ an unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback”
The number 22 appears to have no special significance. Originally the novel was titled Catch 14, and was changed a number of times for marketing reasons, until the “22” was decided upon.
There are lots and lots of examples if you dig around on the Net.
My car had been broken into and in the attempt to steal it the steering column was seriously damaged. Could not drive it. Insurance stated a Case Number must be obtained from the Police within 12 hours for insurance purposes. Police refuse to come to the vehicle, as they are too busy for mundane stuff. I cannot drive the damaged vehicle and I lived on a farm, alone, 25 miles from the nearest Police Station. What now….?
Enough stuff here to get one on the road for greater insight; best place to start for detailed stuff is at Wikipedia

Thursday, 14 May 2009

To Wet (Whet) your Whistle : Origin and Meaning

What does it mean if you wet your whistle?
The most common interpretation is to have something to drink, usually something alcoholic. More polite to say you are off to wet your whistle than to say you are going drinking.
Most references relate to a custom quite a few hundred years ago when drinking mugs had whistles that one would blow to indicate you needed a refill.
Some say the whistle was attached to the handle and became wet after the drink had been poured, hence to wet your whistle.
Other sources say the whistle was part of the mug, built into either the rim or handle. The result in both cases being a wet whistle. I went digging on the web and could find no example of Ye Olde Whistle Mug. Maybe I did not dig deep enough. The only examples I could find were replicas of whistle mugs on offer as curios.

By the way, the whistle part. It would appear in times past ones mouth and or throat were referred to in common talk as your whistle, which makes sense to me. To wet your whistle was to have something to drink. There is documentation that this was in use during the 1300’s. ( Maybe one wet ones whistle before you whistled, hard to whistle with dry lips. Maybe one wet your whistle before talking, something like a glass of water on a speakers table)
So, the way I look at it, is that to have something to drink preceded the whistle on the mug concept. Maybe the one morphed into the other.
You will also find references to “Whet your whistle”. My immediate reaction was that whet morphed into wet over the passage of time. This is not necessarily true.
Whet per definition means either to sharpen something on a grindstone (whetstone) or to excite or stimulate a desire, interest or appetite. Starters at a meal are there to whet your appetite in stimulating the desire to eat more of something else. This is also a saying in its own right, first documentation however quite a few years after the Wet your whistle.
I did a very unsophisticated test on the Internet and Googled “wet your whistle” and had 426,000 hits, the majority directed towards drinking. “Whet your whistle” resulted in 421,000 hits, the majority of the answers related to stimulating further thought or experience processes.
Now you have a good basis to go scratching around for more information and draw your own conclusion.
Image from Wikipedia

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Climate change and a Polar Bear

Just hang in there Mr Polar Bear, the skeptics say climate change is a figment of the imagination, ignore it for a while and it will go away.
I wonder if the skeptics ever thought about talking to you before making these kind of statements.
Image source unknown, received via email

( Skeptiks?.....spelling?)