Word of the Week – Mercurial

Word of the Week – Mercurial

Ready for the next installment of our “adjectives from mythology” series? Today we’re taking a look at a word I honestly don’t use very often. In fact, if one of my kids were to ask, “What does mercurial mean?” I probably would have given them a look and said, “Why don’t you look it up?” Ahem. 😉

But when I look at the etymology of the word, it’s no wonder that it means what it does. You see, the Roman god Mercury (equivalent to the Greek Hermes) is the messenger god–the one who dashes hither and yon at high speeds.

Much like Jupiter/Jove, Mercury’s name was given to one of the first planets identified in the heavens, the one closest to the sun–perhaps because it’s orbit around the sun is so quick.

Well, much like jovial actually comes from an astrological term, mercurial does too. It means “swift and clever,” qualities associated with the god Mercury and thought to be more common in those born under the sign of the planet.

Is this a word you use very often? I’m going to make it a point to use it more–it’s a fun one! (Not that I have the “swift” part of its meaning, personally, LOL.)

Word of the Week – Jovial

Word of the Week – Jovial

For the next couple weeks, I’m going to do a little mini-series on some adjectives we have that are based on the names of ancient mythological gods. As I was reading through a list of some of these, I found it so fascinating!

So we’ll start off with Zeus. Now, I know what you’re thinking–I don’t know of any words with Zeus as the root! Which is true…sort of. Zeus was his Greek name, but English is derived far more from Latin than Greek. And what was Zeus’s Latin name?

Jupiter…also known as Jove.

By jove! Now we’re on to something! 😉

Of course, when you hear Jupiter, your first thought is the planet, right? Well, interestingly enough, that’s actually where this word of the week comes from. Jupiter was given as a name not just to any planet–it was given to the BIGGEST planet. And when people were born “under the sign of Jupiter” (astology has its roots waaaaaaaaaay back in time), they were thought to be of a more cheerful disposition than the rest of us. And so came the word jovial ~ literally “pertaining to or under the influence of Jove,” by which they mean the planet of Jupiter.

Word of the Year – Intentional

Word of the Year – Intentional

As 2020 wound to a close, my best friend and I were talking about a Word for the year to come. I mentioned how I usually come to mine…namely, I pray about it and wait for something to strike me–or not. She, on the hand, prayerfully CHOOSES one. Something she means to keep in mind in the year to come. Her word for 2021 is “Joy.” Which is lovely, right?

I decided that this choosing business had something going for it. I began to ponder what I felt my word should be, and praying that God would clarify it and help me pick the one He wanted for me. I considered quite a few. Something resonated whenever I considered my need for rest…but rest as a word for the year didn’t seem quite right. I got a feeling of being on the right track whenever my husband and I talked about making a list of what we’ve done in 2020 and then setting up plans to help us stick to the right path in the year to come. And I knew that I wanted a word that also captured how I want to pursue relationships and love my neighbors in all that I do.

It was in a conversation about marketing our books that the word itself hit me.

Intentional.

This is the word that encapsulates everything I’m going for in 2021.

I need to be intentional about my rest–because let me tell you, burnout is a real thing!

I need to be intentional about my writing, focusing on the stories God wants me to write.

I need to be intentional about building relationships and tending relationships, with family and friends and neighbors.

I need to be intentional about pursuing the passion for reconciliation that He has planted in my heart in this tumultuous year.

I need to be intentional about my food choices, my exercise, my health, my family’s health–a lesson diabetes has taught me in the last quarter of 2020, for sure, when “spontaneous” became an impossibility for my son.

Intentional. It’s the word that also speaks to the reason undergirding everything else. My husband and I talk a lot about the value of self-awareness and “knowing your why.” When you know why you’re doing a thing, it helps you focus. It helps you make decisions. It helps you evaluate whether each thing adds or detracts from what you should be doing. We ask “why?” a lot in our family. And having the answer definitely creates intentionality.

I don’t want my life to be defined by happenstance and circumstance. I don’t want life to happen to me. Even when I get tossed curveballs (and 2020 had a few of them!), I want to step forward to meet them, knowing that they might be able to make me pause and regroup and even change up some of my actions, but they can’t change my reason for things.

Do you have a word for 2021? I’d love to hear it, and what it means to you!

Holiday History ~ The Twelve Days of Christmas

Holiday History ~ The Twelve Days of Christmas

These days, all the hype is leading up to Christmas. So much so that on December 26, it feels kinda like a letdown, right? The all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio stations are back to normal programming. Some people start taking down decorations. By the time New Year’s rolls around, people look at you like you’re crazy if you’re still wishing them a Merry Christmas.

I do it anyway. Why? Because the Christmas season traditionally begins on December 25. It doesn’t end there.

The Christmas season is about much more than a day: it is about celebrating the miracle and life of Christ. Just as we have the Advent Calendar to count up to Christmas Day, so we also have the Twelve Days, which follow Christmas and lead up to the Epiphany on January 6.

Surviving mainly in Europe today, the Epiphany is a long-celebrated day that remembers the arrival of the Magi. Literally “Manifestation,” the Epiphany is also the day taken to commemorate the second birth or baptism of Christ and the importance of God being made man through that act. In many parts of the world, the Epiphany is just as celebrated (or even more so) as Christmas…and in the days when sweets and citrus fruits were primary decorations, children especially loved this day, because it’s when they got to eat those candies and fruit. 😉

The Twelve Days covers all sorts of important moments in Christianity, like Christ being named 8 days after birth. The importance of the Christmas star. The journey the magi took. The baptism of Christ, as already mentioned. And so much more.

In our family, we like to remember the full Twelve Days and never take decorations down until the traditional day, January 6. And there’s something really special about stretching it out like that. About making Christmas the start of something, instead of the end. Because really, Christ’s arrival was just the beginning. And this helps us to remember that.

Holiday History ~ Boxing Day

Holiday History ~ Boxing Day

So…what’s Boxing Day? Though our friends across the pond don’t even have to ask, we Americans may scratch our heads a bit at this one. We know that it is, just not necessarily what it is.

From reading, I knew that Boxing Day was the day after Christmas, which, historically speaking, servants had off to celebrate Christmas with their families. But obviously there’s more history to it than that, right?

Of course there is! 😉

The phrase itself originated in 1809, but it comes from a practice that dates back to the Middle Ages. The day after Christmas was, you see, traditionally the day when the alms-box located at each church was opened up and distributed among the poor. It also then became the day when servants, service people like postal employees or errand boys, etc, could expect a gift from their employers, usually given in a small box. And then, of course, it was also the day servants could then leave the masters to fend for themselves and go enjoy the contents of those gift boxes with their own families or friends. The boxes usually included gifts of money and leftover food from the Christmas feast.

These days, Boxing Day has become a shopping holiday, filled with sales much like America’s Black Friday deals. It’s when people can expect the best sales of the year. There are certain areas in Canada where this has been banned and retailers are to remain closed on Dec 26, to provide the holiday to their employees. Very traditional, that. 😉 In those regions, Dec 27 gets the good sales instead.

Holiday History ~ Noel

Holiday History ~ Noel

When I was asking you all for suggestions of holiday words or traditions you’d like to learn more about, someone suggested “Noel.” I knew this was the French word for Christmas, but I admit that’s where my knowledge ended, so it was fun to learn more!

Noel does indeed come to English through the French, and the French word means “Christmas.” But more literally, noel is from the Latin nael, a variation of natalis, which means “birth day.” In Church Latin, this word was used exclusively for the birth of Christ.

We can see other words with this same root in natal and nativity. I knew where those two came from, but it didn’t occur to me that noel was from a variation of the same word. So there we have it!