Monday, December 24, 2012

El Niño de Navidad

Meaning: the Christmas child, (or, if you're feeling literal, the little boy of The birth) a shortened version of which - El Niño - is the nickname for a warm current off Peru which begins around Christmas time. This has given its name in turn to the larger, related climate pattern of El Niño/La Niña.

Usefulness: 1 (Could be used in all sorts of overblown metaphors about the arrival of Christmas and / or the Christ child, or as a slightly-more-interesting-than-usual way to start a conversation about the weather.)

Logofascination: 2 (Mainly in terms of the linguistic history - the Latin nativitas became Navidad, was shipped around the world to Peru, adopted to describe some weather, shortened, and then hijacked by scientists. If you keep following the trail you get to Japanese, via the El Niño "Modoki".)

In the wild: Yes, in its assorted meanings, but I found it while reading the dictionary - isn't that what everyone does on their summer holidays?

Degrees: 2

Connections: Navidad - Christmas

Which is used in: G&P, XXXIII: Rondibilis the physician's cure of cuckoldry. Rondibilis is telling a story (of which more another day) and Pantagruel interrupts to tell his own story, about a Bishop who loved wine. The Bishop felt that it always rained or snowed on certain feast days, damaging the crop, and therefore
he went about to have transmitted their feasts from the spring to the winter, to be celebrated between Christmas and Epiphany, so the mother of the three kings called it, allowing them with all honour and reverence the liberty then to freeze, hail, and rain as much as they would; for that he knew that at such a time frost was rather profitable than hurtful to the vine-buds, 
Being antipodean, I am on summer holidays, and will be spending the next week fulfilling my duties to the national stereotype by means of cricket, beer, and things natatory, and therefore won't be posting again until the New Year*.  In the meantime, however you celebrate it, here's to a Christmas full of feasts.

*Unless I really feel like it. 

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