Archives for posts with tag: John the Baptist

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.”
Generations of British children have chanted this mnemonic.  Many of them also stood on street corners or went house-to-house requesting,
A penny for the guy”.

Sketch of a group of children escorting an effigy
Procession of a Guy
(1864) Public domain
The guy represented Guy Fawkes.  It was a man’s outfit stuffed with newspaper.  It didn’t need any pennies, but they wanted to be able to have fireworks on Bonfire Night.

Light blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance.
Invariably, fireworks had this instruction printed on them.  The touch paper was dark blue, which appealed to my sense of humour.  I have often thought that my preferred method of communication followed the same instructions.  Rather than risk a confrontation, I might send someone a note.

A damp squib was a small firework which did not go off properly, or a metaphor for something disappointing.  It probably fizzled out.

To build a bonfire was part of the evening’s activity.  The effigy would be placed on the top and burnt to a frizzle.  Rebellious schoolchildren used to chant about building a bonfire, but as they were ungrateful for the opportunity of education for all, I am not going to reproduce it here!

Whizz!  Bang! are the noises rockets make and Roman Candles send up different colours high into the sky.  If the nail isn’t hammered in too far, a Catherine Wheel spins round making a pattern of sparks.  It is named after the martyr, St Catherine.

Toasted crumpets, jacket potatoes, roast chestnuts, home-made toffee and toffee apples are popular at this time of year.

Toffee Apple or Candy Apple (public domain: originator William W. Kolb)

Hopefully, they will not be burnt to a cinder or a crisp.  Strictly, cinders are the lumpy residue in the ash from burning coal or wood.

A smokescreen hides something.

There’s no smoke without fire
is a saying about rumours.  Just as fire causes smoke, rumours often start for a reason.

Smoke signals are made by interrupting the emission of smoke.

A peace pipe is smoked.

In the firing line
is a dangerous place to be.  In its literal sense there is risk to life and limb.  Otherwise it is where the person most likely to be blamed might be standing.

You’re fired!
If you lost your job in Britain, it always used to be called getting the sack.  A workman used his own tools and was given them back in a sack.  Where does the American expression come from?

Fired up
means angry.

A fireguard
is placed round a hearth to prevent sparks and hot ashes doing damage and to keep children away from the fire.

A fire-break
is used in woodland to prevent the spread of fire.  A wide strip is left unplanted to make it harder for a forest fire to spread.

Out of the frying pan into the fire
is a saying about a situation changing from bad to worse.

A baptism of fire
is an expression, which has come to describe a very challenging situation.

Its origin is the Bible, where it describes an empowering to deal with a challenge.

Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist is described in John’s Gospel Chapter 1 verses 19-34

Jesus (on the left) is being identified by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world“, in John 1:29. 17th century depiction by Vannini. (Wikipedia public domain

In the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 John the Baptist’s prophecy was fulfilled.  Verse 3 (NIV) They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Photo credits Wikipedia

Silence is golden
Is a well-known saying.  The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation gives a longer version: Speech is silver, but silence is golden.

If people only spoke when they had something important to say, a deathly hush would descend on the earth.
I haven’t managed to find a derivation of, or source for this.  Any ideas?

Be quiet,
Put a sock in it and
Pipe down are three ways of telling people not to talk.
Pipe up is the opposite, often used when someone says something unexpected.

You could hear a pin drop.
It was so quiet that even the sound of a small object falling to the ground was audible.

I can’t hear myself think.
It is so noisy that it is impossible to concentrate.

Keep mum.
Mummers used to mime: acting without words.  Keep mum means “Don’t say anything!”

Mum’s the word.
I’ll keep that secret.

Shocked into silence perhaps.  In any case it is a much nicer word than the more modern
gob-smacked which implies the violence of being hit in the mouth.

means unable to think of anything to say (due to shock).

Struck dumb
dumbfounded mean more or less the same, but can also mean confounded or nonplussed, which implies confusion, but taken literally, would be having nothing to add.

One man who was afflicted in this way was Zechariah the father of John the Baptist.  His story can be found in St Luke’s Gospel Chapters 1 and 2.

is another word for shocked.

There’s none so deaf as those who don’t want to hear.

Sometimes people don’t listen. Matthew Chapter 13 verse 13 (NIV) ‘This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;
Though hearing they do not hear or understand.”’

Cloth ears.
Rag dolls don’t hear much, do they?

Walls have ears.
Sometimes you can be overheard from another room.

“Actions speak louder than words”
is a proverb.  What you do means more than the promise to do it.