January 5, 2007: Wassail Eve

Tonight is Wassail Eve – also knows as Twelfth Night, the last night of the Christmas Holiday season which traditionally began on December 6th with Saint Nicholas Day and would end tonight making it a full month of festivities. But recent American tradition has made Thanksgiving Morn (with the Christmas themed parades which are actually recorded ahead of time putting those localities ahead of everyone else) the beginning of the holiday season and Black Friday the beginning of Christmas shopping but has moved the ending of the season to January 2nd. So the American season is actually a little longer than it traditionally would have been but is focussed totally around shopping and not the holiday itself.

(The term Twelfth Night refers to tomorrow being the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas – Epiphany in celebration of the Magi bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. In easter Christian tradition, this is the actual Christmas day celebration instead of December 25th as we celebrate in the west. But the twelve days of Christmas spans from December 25th until January 6th so the full Christmas covers both gift giving traditions under a single religious celebration.)

In some older English traditions, the winter holiday season begins with All Hallows Eve (Halloween) and runs until Wassail Eve. It was a long holiday season. In some of Latin America, Christmas is considered to run until February 2nd ending in Candlemas. However in the United States and Canada this has been overshadowed by Groundhog Day.

Wassail is the old English term for “Good Health To You” which was derived from the old Norse words meaning roughly “be you” and “healthy”. I have not studied the etymology of hail too closely but my understanding is that it was long the word for healthy in several Germanic languages and is still used that way in even modern American English although not very commonly. The word “healthy” is directly derived from it and even the more common use of hailing someone (Star Trek “Open hailing frequencies”) is from the usage meaning “to wish good health from a distance”.

I got six hours of sleep last night making one of the best nights of sleep for me this entire week. I got into the office and it was a very quiet morning. The phone didn’t ring once the entire time that I was covering the desk. That is how I like it. I like a nice, quiet morning when I can get caught up on things, get my head wrapped around the day, etc. I even got a chance to read some more in the book that I am currently working my way through. I am hoping to finish it today.

Email was slow today. I received little office email and didn’t get any personal email all morning. It was crazy. It ended up being a slow day in general. I never really got the feel that it was slow but just about nothing actually happened all day. It was a weird sensation. I was hoping to get to go out to lunch today with some of the guys but no one ended up going out for lunch today and I went down to the cafeteria again today. I have had egg salad wraps all week!

Well, my plan had been to get out of the office nice and early today but there was no such luck. My “get out early” turned into a very busy evening. I put in a full ten hour day at my desk including eating lunch without leaving my desk.

I did manage to get some decent reading done during the day and I spent a little while teaching myself some C++ programming. I have a cursory knowledge of C++ but I have decided that I need to learn it a little more thoroughly. Nothing real serious, just enough to be able to actually use it from time to time. I wrote a cool little temperature conversion program today to test it out. I made it act just like a normal UNIX utility taking command line parameters, returning version information, outputting its own help page, etc. And it does its work silently just taking in a number and returning unformatted output so that you can use it inline with other tools. You can even pass it a precision parameter and it will modify the length of its output for you. Handy and cool. Not bad for passing the time at work today. I might actually find myself using it myself.

I got home and had to work for about two hours before we were able to go out to Food for Life for some dinner. We came home and watched some of Disney’s Gummi Bears. Both Dominica and Oreo were exhausted tonight. Oreo has been at daycare for four straight days and is totally exhausted. We are looking forward to a laid back weekend of just staying in Newark. We really don’t have any plans for the weekend other than Dominica studying for her exam and me working on the Asterix server that is being delivered to Scranton on Wednesday evening.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Opentyde.  SGL is your source for traditional calendar information 🙂

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