The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear. In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.
No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and for many years, states observed the holiday on different dates. By federal law, however, Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday in May. Since it all started with the Civil War, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of this event by visiting the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs.
Question of the Day
My understanding is that there are a couple of words that were derived from sailing, one being “posh” and the other being “news.” What are the true origins of these words, and is it true that they are derived from sail of old?
The origin of posh” is obscure.The most seen explanation for the origin ascribes it to the days of the British Empire in the 19th (and early 20th) century when there was constant steamship travel between England and India. In those pre-air conditioning days, it was unbearably hot crossing the Indian Ocean, and the coolest cabins were the most sought after. That meant, when traveling east, those on the port side; sailing west, those on the starboard. Consequently, those passengers who could afford the luxury booked “Port Outward/Starboard Homeward” or “P.O.S.H.” The acronym thus became a synonym for whatever is first-class or luxurious. A more likely definition is that it is a word from Romany, the language of Gypsies, meaning half. The word originally entered England’s underworld in the 17th century in such compounds as posh-houri, meaning half-pence, and soon became a slang term for money in general. And then the meaning changed to expensive or fancy.”News” has no nautical origin that we know of. It’s the plural of “new” and is from the old French word for new — noveles. Its original meaning was “new things, novelties,” and eventually came to encompass “tidings, or an account of recent events and occurrences brought as new information.” Now we use it in the singular form, but until this century the plural form was used.”
Advice of the Day
To clean pine pitch from your hands, rub them well with a glob of mayonnaise, then wash.
Home Hint of the Day
The deeper the soil, the deeper the roots will go, allowing plants to take in more water and nutrients on their own. So, when using a tiller or plow, turn over a good 10 to 12 inches of soil.
Word of the Day
The state of Iowa may have received its name from a Native American word meaning “beautiful land.”
Puzzle of the Day
My first is a verb; add to me one letter, and I become an insect; add another, and I become a kind of vegetable; add two more letters, and I become the name of another insect.
- Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau (first premier of Quebec after Confederation) – 1820
- Norman Cota (U.S. brigadier general) – 1893
- Howard Hawks (director of film) – 1896
- Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny and other characters) – 1908
- Benny Goodman (musician & bandleader) – 1909
- Wynonna Judd (country music singer) – 1964
- Manny Ramirez (baseball player) – 1972
- Wilbur Wright (aviator) – 1912
- Boris Pasternak (writer) – 1960
- Marcel Dupré (composer) – 1971
- Perry Ellis (fashion designer) – 1986
- Gus Wickstrom (retired farmer who used pig spleens to forecast the weather [claimed 90% accuracy]) – 2007
- U.S. and Mexico ratifications of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo exchanged at Queretaro. (Treaty was originally signed on Feb. 2, 1848.)– 1848
- First U.S. national celebration of Memorial (Decoration) Day took place in the Arlington National Cemetery of Virginia– 1868
- First 500 mile automobile race at Indianapolis Speedway was held– 1911
- Lincoln Memorial dedicated in Washington, D.C.– 1922
- From Cape Kennedy, Florida, the U.S. launched Mariner 9, first spacecraft to orbit another planet– 1971
- Thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali, of Bayside Hills, New York, correctly spelled knaidel to become the champion of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Maryland– 2013
- Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases during his team’s 9-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a club record.– 2013
- May 30-31: 8 co-champions were declared for the Scripps Spelling Bee– 2019
- Massive flooding of Columbia River caused dike break that destroyed Vanport, Oregon– 1948
- Hanford, Washington, had a temperature of 104 degrees F– 1986
- Yakima, Washington, hit 102 degrees F– 1986