The Quirky Facts The Quirky Quote
Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? ~ Annie Dillard
Let’s start with time. Although we cite George Washington’s birth date as February 22, 1732, when he was born, it was listed as February 11, i.e., 11 days earlier, because the calendar in use then was the Julian (used since the days of Julius Caesar) But in 1752, Great Britain and its colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar (after Pope Gregory Xlll). George Washington was just 20 at the time and seemed to take the change in stride, even being open to celebrating on both dates.
While it was certainly discombobulating to drop 11 days from the calendar so that when it went into effect on September 2nd
, if you were born on September 3, it would be recorded as September 14th
, the goal was actually to eliminate
confusion, because some European countries had adopted the Gregorian calendar as early as 1582. Another feature of the Julian calendar was that the new year began on March 25. That meant if you were doing business with France, for example, a deed signed on February 1st
in France would be dated one year on the Gregorian calendar and a year earlier in England using the Julian calendar. After that, 11 days seemed like a small price to pay for settling legal matters and celebrating birthdays.
But that said, confusion continued to reign because some countries took their sweet time to make the change. Greece, Turkey, China, and Russia, waited until the first quarter of the 20th
century and they all had to add 13
days to their calendars.
Can you imagine the uproar a calendar change would cause in today’s society? Would people understand they were losing calendar days but not real days, that is, not shortening their lives? I wouldn’t count on it.
The Quirky Observations
Now about the beauty of fall: Like lost days, leaves turning color is also a bit of an illusion. Each day is still 24 hours long, but leaves change color in autumn because as the length of daily sunlight diminishes, the trees stop producing chlorophyll, the chemical that gives them their green color. The bright oranges, yellows, and other colors of fall leaves have been part of the plants all along, but they’ve been covered up by the chlorophyll. When the trees stop making the green chemical, the other colors come to the forefront – another way in which beauty is deeper than outward appearances, and what we view as a change was there all along.
The Shameless Request
Now that WNW is an award-winning publication, we think even more people would be interested in it if they knew about it. Please share it, and if you represent an organization that would like a customized version, send me a note at Kathy@WiserNow.com
- How do you feel about fall? Do you like it? Why or why not?
- What does it mean to you? Walks through colorful woods? Crisp air? Crunching leaves? Fall chores? Fall crafts and baking? Fall festivals? Fall sports? Fall foods and smells?
The Featured Product
The facts and the quiz in this eblast have been excerpted from the Wiser Now slide show, “Time Will Tell,’ which you can learn more about and purchase here.
The Quiz - Timeless Terms
We have lots of ways to express fast time (in a jiffy, in a flash, in nothing flat, before you know it), dozens of words and expressions related to time (timesaver, chowtime, halftime, once upon a time, a whale of a time) and lots of fun quotes about time:
- Time's fun when you're having flies. ~ Kermit the Frog
- How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on. ~ Zall's Second Law
We also have a lot of expressions of time of unusual origins. This is a quiz about those.
Can you figure out which statement is true?
1. High time
a. It’s origin dates back at least to Shakespeare and refers to the warmest time of day, when the sun is highest in the sky; similar to high noon. (“It’s high time we left.”) ___
b. High times refer to “high holidays,” meaning the most important dates on the church calendar. ___
c. Both are true. ___
2. In the nick of time
– at the last possible moment to affect the outcome
- In the 1500s, a “nick” was a small, precise cut on “tally” sticks to measure or keep score, so “nick of time” meant “the precise moment.” ___
- The usage is more recent and refers to Clement Clark Moore’s popular poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” where jolly old St. Nick’s timing is perfect. ___
3. Time immemorial
– meaning since time began, longer ago than can be remembered. “Time out of mind” means the same thing.
- Origin: When Richard I acceded to the English throne in 1275, the year 1189 was declared the beginning of time. No legal cases could deal with events before that. ___
- Origin: The second Inaugural speech of Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of values that have endured from “time immemorial,” including “charity for all” as he expressed his hopes for peace just as the Civil War was ending. ___
4. Tide you over
– a lift to help you over troubled times
a. Origin: The early Saxons divided the days into periods of time called “tides,” each about 3 hours long. A person who was ill was given potions to tide him over or get him through the next hours until his fever broke. ___
b. Origin: If your boat is stuck on a sandbar, the rising tide will lift you over, getting you out of trouble at least temporarily. ___
5. Time and tide wait for no man
- Origin: Refers to the idea that humans cannot control the tides of the sea or stop time. ___
- While tide here would seem to refer to the sea, and fits the meaning of the phrase, tide refers to other Saxon measures of time. It’s still with us when we send “good tidings” or speak of “noontide or “Yuletide.” ___
6. Bated breath
- To wait by the phone with “bated breath” means to wait holding one’s breath with suspenseful anticipation because it derives from the word “abate” which means to cut short, or hold back or restrain. ___
- The word first used by Shakespeare is a corruption of “baited breath” and refers to being ready for another to take the bait so you can say what’s on your mind. ___
Answer to the Quiz
1.c 2.a 3.a 4.b; I basically made up a. 5. Either; it’s a bit of both 6.a