#WordoftheDay – Triskaidekaphobia

Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

Friday the 13th, also known as Black Friday in some countries, is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. How much do you know about it? Try this quiz to test your knowledge – we got 60%..

Or here’s two crime novels featuring the dreaded date

All in a day by Sylvia Ann BaxterFootsteps on the shore

It’s Friday the 13th back in 1958, and as the quaint Yorkshire Dales village of Dibbledale awakes, unsuspecting as to what lies ahead on that infamous day of bad luck and superstition, a number of personal dramas, narrated with humour and a touch of pathos, are all to be played out. Following tales of love, deceit, hope, and schoolboy pranks, before the hour of midnight each will know their fate, when lives will be changed forever for either better or for worse

 

Footsteps on the shore by Pauline Rowson

Friday the 13th begins badly for DI Andy Horton when he wakes to find his Harley has been vandalized and his boss, DCI Lorraine Bliss, has returned early from her secondment to HQ. Then, convicted murderer, Luke Felton, released on licence, is reported missing and a decomposed corpse is washed up in Portsmouth harbour

#WordoftheDay – Mistletoe

A mistletoe kissIf you knew what the name “mistletoe” meant, you MAY be less inclined to stand under it. The quasi-parasitic plant has a “symbiotic relationship” with a bird called the mistle thrush. The bird eats the berries, digests the seeds and then leaves droppings which eventually grow into new mistletoe plants. So the Germanic word for “mistletoe” literally means “dung on a twig.” The plant was given the name “misteltan” in Old English from “mistel”, meaning “dung”, and “tan”, the plural of “ta”, meaning “twig”.  Mistletoe” is another way of  saying “dung twig”.

Why  do we kiss under the mistletoe?

It was considered a prized plant throughout history by the Ancient Greeks, Celts, Babylonians, and Scandinavians. The Ancient Greeks considered the plant an aphrodisiac, believed it aided  fertility and could be used to achieve eternal life.

Ancient Babylon had the closest thing to our current tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. Single women looking for a mate stood outside of the temple of the goddess of love. Mistletoe was hung over the entrance and when a potential suitor approached one of the ladies, they were supposed to bond with him. They did not kiss, however, as kissing wasn’t a way to show affection at that time in the Babylonian empire.

Norseman had many traditions and legends about mistletoe. One tradition was that mistletoe was a plant of peace and so that when enemies met under the mistletoe they were obliged to stop fighting for at least a day. Eventually, a tradition started to hang mistletoe over the doorway of one’s home for peace and good luck.

 

By the 18th century in Britain, the kissing tradition had evolved-  a ball of mistletoe that would be hung as a Christmas decoration. If a couple was found standing under the mistletoe, they were then obliged to kiss if the mistletoe ball still had berries. For each kiss, one berry would be taken from the ball. Once all the berries were gone, all the “luck” in love and marriage was considered to be drained out of the mistletoe and it was now considered bad luck to kiss beneath it, instead of good luck as before.

 

 

#WordoftheDay – Pangram

Pangram –  a sentence containing every letter of the alphabet

There’s the made up sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” but there’s 66 in total in the Oxford English Dictionary(OEDand most occur accidently.To look at the OED just sign in with your library membership number.

Here are some examples:

1970 R. F. Miller One Hundred Thousand Tractors iv. xiv. 341: “They argued, with some justification perhaps, that the kolkhozes were unable to use and maintain their expensive equipment properly.” (justification)

1970 Rolling Stone 30 Jan. 1/2: ”Blue blazer, grey flannel pants, shirt and a beautiful scarf with a chunky Mexican turquoise/silver bracelet and ring which blew the white-shirted jury’s minds.” (blow)

1997 Nature 27 Mar. 319/2: “A moon orbiting a superjovian planet outside the normally accepted habitable zone might be able to support liquid water, thanks to the added heat flux from its primary.” (primary)

c1503 R. Arnold Chron. f. xvi v/2: “The price af a quarer whet iijs. The ferthing Symnell poise xv vuncis & dim. q’t’. The ferthing whit loof coket poise xvij vuncz dim & ob’.” (cocket)

1993 Times 10 July 20/6: “Coming back from a jolly night out, slightly tanked up and woozy on the old pins, a quick blast of Bhangra would have me dancing exotic and erotic moves until I tripped over the cat. (bhangra)