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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:42 pm

• Christmastide •

Pronunciation: kris-mês-tayd • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: The Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas eve to the eve of Epiphany, January 5, now famous for the Christmas song of the same name.

Notes: Today's word is a bit nostalgic since it contains the mysterious and poorly understood term tide. Today tide refers to the rise and fall of the oceans. It originally meant "time", however, before its meaning was reduced to just those times when the sea rises and falls.

In Play: Because so few Christian churches in English-speaking countries celebrate the original Christmastide now, today's Good Word has become confused with the general phrase, Christmas time. The sense of romance and nostalgia that Christmastide bestirs often guides it into church programs and announcements. Just remember it is the holiday season between Christmas and a bit beyond New Year’s Day. Very little gets done over Christmastide. In fact, most schools in the US are closed over Christmastide.

Word History: The word tide comes from PIE *da- "to divide". With the suffix -m it emerges in Greek demos "people, land", things often divided, and all the words English borrowed containing it, such as democracy and pandemic. With the suffix -d, it gave English tide "time," now with a new meaning (sea tides) and with the old one in archaisms like eventide and today's word. The verb tidan "to happen" (to occur in time) left us the beautiful noun tidings "happenings, news," as in the glad tidings, brought by angels to the shepherds in the Christmas Story.
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Postby Apoclima » Mon Dec 26, 2005 1:21 am

Wonderful explanation, Doc! I always wondered where peple got the idea that the twelve days of Christmas were before Christmas (maybe the Advent calendar). Epiphany has always marked the end of Christmastide, but being the ecumenical Anglican that I am I have nothing against starting the whole "tide" again with the Eastern Church. But in truth my Christmas tree doesn't come down 'till shortly before St. Valentine's day (live trees work best for this prolonged celebration).

Blessed Christmastide to you all, and may all your tides be seasonal appropriate!

'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck

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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:33 pm

Tide meaning time is probably a cognate of Swedish/Danish tid, Dutch tijd and German Zeit.

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Postby Stargzer » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:28 pm

Apoclima wrote: . . .
Blessed Christmastide to you all, and may all your tides be seasonal appropriate!


My seasonal tides can get to be extreme around New Years . . .

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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