Celebration Time

“Well, now that we know about marriage,” Chris said, ruffling gelled tufts of hair with two fingers, “we’ve got another word problem.”


“We’re already married but we want to have a party in honor of our new status; right? I say the invitations should read, ‘You’re invited to celebrate our marriage,’ but Pat here says only clergy can celebrate a marriage.”

“Uh, where did you get that idea, Pat?”

“From your favorite source, the OED Online,” Pat said, pulling a tablet device from a shoulder bag and passing it across the table. “See? Celebrate means ‘to perform publicly and in due form (any religious ceremony, a marriage, a funeral, etc.); to solemnize,’ so on and so on, yadda-yadda, ‘to make publicly known, proclaim, publish abroad.’ Five definitions and only stuff about publicizing – making ourselves celebrities, I guess – and solemnizing, which is like the opposite of partying.”

“Weird,” I admitted. “You’re right. Celebrate is related to celebrity. It’s from Latin celebrātus, past participle of celebrāre, which is from celebr-em ‘renowned.’ Well, it does say the entry has not been fully updated since 1889, but still.

frappucino flag b“Hang on a sec. Look at definition 3. It starts out, ‘to observe with solemn rites; to honour with religious ceremonies,’ but then they slip in ‘festivities, or other observances.’ And look at the citations. There’s plenty of rejoicing and drinking. How about this line from Henry VI, Pt. 1: ‘Feast and banquet in the open streets, to celebrate the joy that God hath given us’? And this definition of celebrate from a 1937 dictionary of slang: ‘to drink joyously’? Is that more like it?”

“I’ll drink to that!” they said in unison, attempting to clink plastic glasses of Frappuccino.



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