May 30th, 2008

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, longtail!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

Bristol man's gift

A present of something which the giver pronounces to be of no use, or of no value to himself.
—Henry Reddall's Fact, Fancy, and Fable, 1889

Memorial Day

Decoration Day

A public holiday, now called Memorial Day, originally set apart for the decoration of graves of those who fell during America's Civil War. In Teresina in America (1975), French traveler Maria Theresa Longworth described aspects of Southern life possibly changed forever by this conflict: "I was informed that before the war, any traveler passing near a plantation in a part of the country where no hotel existed would be hospitably entertained by the planters. But this custom has been quite broken up, and with it the last remains of hospitality in the United States. It may, perhaps, be imported again from Europe as a luxury, but the real spirit of hospitality does not exist in the country. Of real good nature I met with very few specimens. Making presents is not at all usual. Ladies will barter and exchange with each other articles of dress, and the greatest surprise will be expressed if the coveted article should be offered as a present."

Maybe … or maybe they were just put off by the attitude. ;P