Happy May Day

Isn’t it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fools Day and ends with cries of May Day!  (unknown)

Happy First Day of May!  It’s sunny right now, with a predicted high of 14 C!  (There’s also a little picture today of a rain cloud on my weather app, but I’m just going to ignore that.) No rain on May Day, come on.  Not nice to even think about it, weather people.

Whatever you do, don’t go saying May Day three times in a row in a distressed tone of voice over a VHF radio today.  Even if you preface it with the word Happy, chances are you’ll get a lot more attention than you were expecting for a May Day greeting.

Semantic Antics by Sol Steinmetz

This is SO my kind of handy dandy little word book.  I looked to see if mayday, or m’aidez (help me) was in it, but of course it’s not because the meaning hasn’t changed, just the spelling with the anglicization of a french phrase.

We do that a lot – mess with french phrases, or just use them as if they’re our own,  forgetting or ignoring where they came from.  Éclair, crêpe, apéritif, belle, faux pas, déjà vu,  joie de vivre, gauche,  liason, omelette, hors d’oeuvre, panache, armoire, au gratin, au jus, blasé, c’est la vie, poseur (poser), chauffeur, venue, rapport, cliché, ennui, escargot, sabotage, entrepreneur, motif, touché, voila!   See – you know a lot more french than you thought.

A word that is included in the Semantic Antics book is Mayhem, from Anglo-French maihem, and Old French mahaigne (physical injury).  It started off in the 1400’s meaning “the crime of intentionally crippling or disabling a person, as by blinding him, or cutting off a limb.”  In the 1700’s it was defined as “the violently depriving another of the use of such of his members as may render him less able in fighting.”  In the 1800’s it became “any violent behavior, especially physical assault.”  And now it’s been dumbed down completely to mean merely “rowdy disorder, confusion and chaos”  which can occur in any broadcast sporting event in the game itself,  or more likely in the pub or bar in which  it’s being watched, even though no limbs are actually lost.  As a general rule, anyway.  But all good rules have exceptions.

So, no maydays on May Day, no mayhem, no rain.  I think that’s got it covered for the don’ts.  Do get out there and enjoy the springtime or at least open up your windows and let in that fresh spring air.  Flip over your calendar with a bit of panache and some joie de vivre.  Belle May is one of the best months of the year.

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