Showing posts with label Queen Victoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Queen Victoria. Show all posts

Feb 5, 2016

Victorian Words

The Victorians had much influence on common terms - The avoidance of plain terms for bodily parts commonly is associated with the prudery of our Victorian ancestors though many of the evasions predate Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne in 1837.

People started saying darn instead of damn, to employ dashes (d – – –) when writing the harsher word, to perspire instead of sweat, to wear unmentionables  instead of trousers and breeches, to have stomachaches instead of bellyaches, to use nude rather than naked when referring to human figures in painting and sculpture, and to be laid to rest, not buried in a cemetery.

The taboo on breast was so strong that it was replaced by bosom in many contexts during the following century. Decorative breast knots on dresses became bosom knots, breast pins became bosom pins, and even otherwise earthy English farmers were known to refer to the breast, or forward part of the moldboard of a plow, as its bosom.

Most likely, the reluctance to say breast also explains why William Congreve’s line in The Mourning Bride, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” is often misquoted as “Music has charms to soothe a savage beast.”

Apr 23, 2013

Whoopee Cushions

The whoopee cushion is a classic design that has not changed since its launch in 1932.

The idea of sitting down to make a funny noise is much older, Queen Victoria was given a musical bustle in 1887 for her Golden Jubilee which played 'God Save the Queen' when the wearer sat down. The Roman Emperor Elagabulus used an early version of the whoopee cushion at his dinner parties.

The Quad City Mallards ice hockey team hold the world record for the largest simultaneous whoopee cushion sit with 3,614 sitters taking part at Moline, Illinois, USA.

Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Elaine Johnson) got her stage name from her childhood flatulence and the fact that it made her sound like a whoopee cushion. She adopted the traditionally Jewish surname 'Goldberg' as a stage name, because her mother felt that Johnson was not "Jewish enough" to make her a star. Well, that's about the end of it.

May 7, 2010

Queen Elizabeth and Stamps

The world’s first adhesive postage stamps were issued by Great Britain in 1840, as the “Penny Black” depicting Queen Victoria. It began designating British stamps by the depiction of the country’s sovereign. Great Britain is the only country allowed by international postal regulations to omit a text name of the issuing country.

In 1966 Arnold Machin sculpted a bust of Queen Elizabeth for the Royal Mail. It has been in continuous use since then, and has been reproduced some 320 billion times.  Three copies of the original bust were known to exist, but recently a fourth one was discovered at the Machin family home.

Dec 31, 2009

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, and many other Commonwealth nations. It is a time for family and friends to gather for food and fun. Outdoor sports, such as soccer, horse racing, and hunting are popular on this holiday. Retailers offer huge savings on many items on this day, making it the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada. It is celebrated on December 26th and is a statutory holiday in the federal jurisdiction and Ontario. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Boxing Day is considered a legal holiday.

Boxing Day, also known as the Feast of St. Stephen, after the first Christian martyr, originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. It originated as a holiday for members of the merchant class to give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. Many workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes. The gifts were an expression of gratitude similar to the bonuses many employers offer their employees today. These gifts, usually given in wood or clay boxes, gave the holiday it's name, "Boxing Day".

Also related to the origin of Boxing Day is the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents of these boxes were distributed amongst the poor by the clergy on the day after Christmas.

When great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, a Christmas Box was used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port. It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box. It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage. If the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage. The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would "box up" their leftover food, and sometimes gifts and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.