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Posts Tagged ‘Piper’

Twelfth Night

Today is the Christian feast of Epiphany, the traditional date among Catholics and Protestants when the legendary “Three Kings” visited the baby Jesus.

In parts of Italy, it is at Epiphany, not on Christmas Day, that children get their presents — delivered by a witch called Befana by broomstick last night.

Befana is a much magled form of Epifania — the Italian form of Epiphany — and she almost certainly evolved from the Pagan Goddess Strenia, who presided over the presents given at the New Year. (It also gives us Tiffany).

Meanwhile, in the Orthodox Church, today is Christmas…

In Britain and America, however, Epiphany — which also happens to be the twelfth day of Christmas, that is to say “Twelfth Night” — is often entirely neglected now, though once, when the twelve days were kept with full festivity, it was a big event — so big, it even got a Shakespearian play named after it.

The fabled “Twelve Days of Christmas” have their roots in the Norse Jól, and were originally kept between December 20th and the 31st.

They also have very prosiac origins; at this darkest time of the year, with the harvest gathered in, animals slaughtered, and crops requiring sowing in the autumn sowed, there really wasn’t much that needed doing – making it a perfect time for relaxing, and enjoying the year’s produce while it was still fresh.

I’ve always felt it rather sad that while the shops start celebrating the Midwinter festivals in the summer, and many people can’t wait to get their decorations out at the start of December — sometimes even in November, as soon as the New Year comes, it all gets put away, even though this is the traditional period for still celebrating.

Growing up, my family was one of the few who did keep Twelfth Night, making a special event of the last day of the tree. We still do.

One of our little traditions is that as we take down the decorations, we always sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Unfortately, the gifts sent on each of the days aren’t that name-worthy in their own right, but they do suggest those that are.

And so, to mark the occasion, here are my ideas:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

A partridge in a pear-tree

Airi, Alula, Apion, Betrisen, Ena, Enas, Li, Madaria, Mia, Pear, Pera, Perdiz, Pernice, Perina, Perry, Piro, Primula, Primus, Rika, Una

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Two turtle doves

Aphrodite, Callum, Colm, Colmán, Columba, Columbine, Dove, Dovie, Duo, Jemima, Jonah, Mimi, Paloma, Peleia, Secunda, Secundus, Thania, Trygon, Tuvi, Venus

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Three French hens

Chuck, Frances, Francesca, Francis, Frank, Hen, Talitha, Tertia, Tertius, Tertulla, Thrima, Tria, Trinity, Triskele, Trystine, Wren

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Four colly birds,

Aderyn, Amsel, Bird, Chogan, Colly, Deryn, Lonan, Merle, Merula, Quatro, Quartilla, Quartus, Tessera, Tesseres

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Five gold rings

Aranka, Aurea, Cinq, Cressida, Cyclamen, Eliphaz, Golden, Kirk, Marigold, Morgan, Orla, Quinque, Quintilla, Quintus, Sovann, Sunakai, Suwan

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Six geese a-laying

Anser, Antzara, Gander, Goshawk, Gossamer, Gus, Guska, Hani, Hex, Liba, Sextilla, Sextus, Zoss

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Seven swans a-swimming

Cygne, Cygnet, Cygnus, Ella, Gulbė, Iswan, Joutsen, Leda, Luik, Odette, Septima, Septimus, Seven, Swan, Swanilda

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eight maids a-milking

Aludra, Cora, Corinna, Galatea, Impi, Meinir, Octavia, Octavian, Octavius, Octo, Parthenia, Virginia, Virgo

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Nine ladies dancing

Anassa, Beletili, Caryatis, Ceilidh, Cordax, Creusa, Damsel, Dominique, Dominy, Donna, Jive, Lady, Madonna, Martha, Nephthys, Nina, Nona, Nonus, Nostradamus

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Ten lords a-leaping

Adonai, Anaxandra, Anaxander, Baal, Caderyn, Cyril, Deacon, Decima, Decimus, Dinesh, Dominic, Don, Doyen, Edwen, Lapwing, Lord, Marquis, Meredith, Murdoch, Ner, Nerys, Rakesh, Ramnath, Sacheverell, Tiernan, Tierney

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eleven pipers piping

Aule, Auletes, Auletris, Aulus, Endeka, Doucet, Fife, Flauta, Fletna, Flute, Fretel, Ney, Onze, Pan, Pfeifer, Piper, Quena, Subulo, Tibiae, Tibicen, Tibicina, Undecima, Undecimus

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Twelve drummers drumming

Baraban, Boben, Davul, Drummer, Duodecima, Duodecima, Nagara, Ngoma, Rebana, Tabala, Tambor, Tambour, Timbrel, Trommel, Trumm, Typanon

What meanings lie behind the strange gifts have not been satisfactorily elucidated. Some Catholics claim they arose as a catechism to help teach tenets of Catholicism in England after the Reformation, but there is no proof of this, and it is more likely its roots are far older. I prefer the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes’ interpretation:

Suggestions have been made that the gifts have significance, as representing the food or sport for each month of the year. Importance [certainly has] long been attached to the Twelve Days, when, for instance, the weather on each day was carefully observed to see what it would be in the corresponding month of the coming year. Nevertheless, whatever the ultimate origin of the chant, it seems probable [that] the lines that survive today both in England and France are merely an irreligious travesty.

Happy Twelfth Night!

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Today marks the start of the Roman Pagan feast of Saturnalia, celebrating the birthday of the God Saturn.

As Gods go, Saturn is quite neglected these days in the retelling of Classical Myths.

He usually gets dismissed as “the equivalent of the Greek Cronus” and that’s pretty much it.

The tale of Zeus and Cronus is quite well known: Cronus — who had castrated his own father, Uranus, with a sickle — swallowed all his children by Rhea as soon as they were born, for fear that one would overthrow him.

That was, until, Rhea contrived to smuggle the infant Zeus away.

He grew up on Mount Ida, suckled by a goat — and grew up to overthrow his father.

Most assume that’s all there is to Saturn too.

But it’s important to remember that while there are parallels between the Greek and Roman pantheon, and the Romans equated Saturn with Cronus, they do in fact have quite separate existences.

Cronus, with his sickle, was associated with the harvest, Saturn — the Roman God of agriculture — was associated more with sowing.

And to the Romans, Saturn, unlike Cronus, never became a shadowy figure in the background, even though the Roman passion for all things Greek meant that among the literatti, he did get his nose shoved out somewhat.

But it is clear that he still remained one of their most important deities, very much at the forefront of their religion.

They named one of the planets after him (the Greek name for the planet Saturn was Phainon “shining”).

In turn, the planet Saturn gave its name to a day of the week — the only day of the week, indeed, which in our calendar still bears his name: Saturday.

Saturn’s temple stood at the foot of the Capitoline. It was an important place, home to the state treasury, the Tables of Law and the records of decress by the Senate.

And the Saturnalia was probably the most popular festivals of the Roman calendar.

Originally, it lasted only a day, and it was  held in celebration of the sowing of the crops, which took place in Roman Italy in December.

From the 3rd Century BCE, though, it started to grow, lasting a week by the time of the Emperor Augustus.

It was a period characterised by revelry; the formal, cumbersome toga was put aside, and everyone wore the equivalent of party clothes instead.

Slaves got to be cheeky to masters, and to have their celebratory feast before — or with — their masters.

A “lord of misrule” was chosen, and everyone had to do what he said, no matter how ridiculous — indeed, the more ridiculous, the better.

And, most significantly for us today, as we dash madly round the shops trying to find something to buy Auntie Mabel for Christmas, we have the Saturnalia to thank for the tradition of giving gifts at this season.

The traditional gift of the Saturnalia were small terracotta dolls called sigilla, and other popular gifts were candles, fruit and nuts, but all kinds of gifts were given. Book 14 of Martial’s Epigrams contains all sorts of Saturnalia gifts, ranging from a lyre to an apron, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey  to an ape — although Martial was writing satire, so does needs to be taken with a pinch of salt…

So what names do we have for Saturnalia babies?

Well, the possibilities are endless, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Allegra — Italian “happy” and “cheerful”; Byron renamed his illegitimate daughter Clara Allegra when he gained custody of her in 1818
  • Ananda — Sanskrit “happiness” and “pleasure”
  • Antic
  • Asher — Hebrew osher “happy” and “blessing”
  • Banter
  • Bliss
  • Blithe
  • Carousel
  • Cereus — Latin “wax candle”; one of the traditional gifts of the Saturnalia. Cerea makes a nice feminine form.
  • Cheer
  • Cithara — an ancient instrument, resembling a lyre, plucked at many a Saturnalia feast
  • Cymbal — simple musical instruments were often a feature of festivities such as the Saturnalia
  • Droll
  • Drummer — plenty of drumming at the Saturnalia!
  • Dulcimer — a medieval musical instrument, with the loveliest of names
  • Džiugas — Lithuanian boy’s name, dating to medieval times, meaning “cheerful” and “merry”
  • Farah — Arabic “joy” and “delight”
  • Felicia — variant of FELIX dating back to medieval times
  • Felicity
  • Felix
  • Festal
  • Festival
  • Festive
  • Festus — Latin “festive”; used as a cognomen (surname) in Roman times
  • Fête — French “festival”
  • Fidicen –– Latin “minstrel”
  • Frolic
  • Gala
  • Gale — obsolete English word meaning “merriment” and “mirth”; the identical looking word for a high wind has a different etymology
  • Gaudeamus — Latin “let us rejoice”; from the Latin student’s song “Gaudeamus igitur…”; gaudeamus was sometimes used in the 19th Century of merry-making, particularly by students.
  • Gaudeo — Latin “I rejoice”
  • Gaudi — Spanish surname, made familiar by the genius Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí; it derives ultimately from the Latin gaudium “joy”
  • Gioconda — Italian “merry”  (La Gioconda is one of the names of the Mona Lisa)
  • Glad — and maybe, dare I through it in — Gladys?
  • Glee
  • Gŵyl — Welsh “festival”
  • Happy
  • Harper — more music…
  • Hilaria — Latin: hilaris  “merriment.” The original medieval Latin form of Hilary when used for girls.
  • Hilarity
  • Io — although pronounced differently, if I had a Saturnalia baby, I’d be very tempted to use this lovely and rather quirky name from Greek mythology as a nod to the traditional cry of “Io, Saturnalia” (kind of the equivalent of “Merry Christmas”…)
  • Jape
  • Jest
  • Jester
  • Jink
  • Jocant — obsolete English word meaning “jolly”
  • Jocund
  • Jollity
  • Jolly
  • Jovial
  • Jovy — obsolete form of JOVIAL
  • Joy
  • Joyeux — French “merry”
  • Joyous
  • Kermis — a periodical fair or carnival in the Low Countries and parts of Germany characterized by much merry-making
  • Laeta (simplified as Leta) — Latin “happy”
  • Lecelina — a medieval diminutive form of LETITIA
  • Letitia — Latin laetitia “happiness”; used as a given name since the Middle Ages
  • Lettice — the charming ye-olde-worldey English form of LETITIA
  • Levity
  • Llawen — Welsh “merry” (the name of an early saint)
  • Lowena — Cornish “joy”
  • Lowender — Cornish “mirth”
  • Lyra — Latin name of the Lyre (which also has name potential), the best known instrument of the ancient world, and grandmother of the harp. Like the Cithara, there would have been much strumming of the lyre at the Saturnalia, and it was one of the gifts featured by Marial in his epigrams about Saturnalia presents…
  • Merriment
  • Merry
  • Minstrel
  • Mirth
  • Piper — plenty of pipe-playing at the Saturnalia too…
  • Pleasance
  • Pleasant
  • Revel
  • Revelry
  • Saturn — Saturn derives from Latin satus “sown,” from sero “to sow.” There are actually examples of Saturn as a given name since the 19th Century.
  • Saturnalia
  • Sigilla — Latin “little image”; the little statuettes handed out as traditional Saturnalia gifts
  • Timbrel — a medieval instrument akin to a tamourine, used in festivities and celebrations

Not to mention all the names meaning “gift.”

And now it’s time to go and celebrate. Io, Saturnalia!

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I love burning essential oils — I find them more potent and pure than incense  — and smoke-free, which is a distinct advantage. The names, too, are rich and evocative. Of course, many essential oils share their names with herbs, but there are some which are found purely as essential oils, and they certainly make a good hunting ground for  wonderful names!

So here are some essential oil names. Most of these feature in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names, but there are a couple which I missed. Fear not! They’ll get an entry here at Nook of Names erelong!

Anise, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cajaput, Cardamon, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Cinnamon Leaf, Citronella, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Coriander, Cypress, Dill, Elemi, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Grapefruit, Helichrysum, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Litsea, Mandarin, Manuka, Marjoram, Melissa, Myrrh, Neroli, Niaouli, Nutmeg, Orange, Palmarosa, Parsley, Patchouli, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Pine, Ravensara, Rose Geranium, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Rosewood,  Sage, Sandalwood, Spearmint, Spikenard, Tagetes, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Thyme, Valerian, Vanilla, Vertivert, Violet Leaf, Yarrow, White Birch, Ylang Ylang.

If some of these essential oil names are a little ‘strong’, why not consider their botanical names?  One part or the other (or sometimes both) may have potential!

  • Benzoin — Styrax benzoin
  • Bergamot — Citrus bergamia
  • Black Pepper — Piper nigrum
  • Cajaput — Melaleuca cajaputi
  • Cardamon — Elettaria cardamomum
  • Carrot Seed — Daucus carota
  • Cedarwood — Cedrus atlantica
  • Clary Sage — Salvia sclarea
  • Clove Bud — Eugenia caryophyllata
  • Dill — Anethum graveolens (Anetha, maybe?)
  • Frankincense — Boswellia carteri
  • German Chamomile — Matricaria recutica
  • Ginger — Zingiber officinale
  • Grapefruit — Citrus paradisi
  • Lime — Citrus aurantifolia
  • Marjoram — Origanum marjorana
  • Niaouli — Melaleuca viridiflora
  • Nutmeg — Myristica fragrans
  • Parsley — Carum Petroselinum (tweaks to Cara Petroselina rather well!)
  • Peppermint — Mentha piperata
  • Pine Pinus — Pinus sylvestris
  • Roman Chamomile — Anthemis nobilis
  • Rose Otto — Rosa damascena
  • Rosemary — Rosmarinus officinalis (why not Rosmarina?)
  • Rosewood — Aniba rosaeodora (while rosaeodora has perhaps a bit much going on, Rosadora or Rosodora are food for thought!)
  • Sandalwood —  Santalum album (Santaly, perhaps?)
  • Spearmint — Mentha spicata
  • Spikenard — Nardostachys jatamansi
  • Tea Tree — Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Thyme — Thymus vulgaris
  • White Birch — Betula alba
  • Valerian — Valeriana officinalis
  • Vetivert — Vetiveria zizanoides
  • Violet Leaf — Viola odorata
  • Yarrow — Achillea millefolium
  • Ylang Ylang — Cananga odorata

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