Friday, January 20

Forgotten Sickness

So the daily calendar I bought myself for Christmas this year is called Forgotten English. Every day it presents a word or phrase that was once used in English speaking society, but has since died either because other words have replaced them or because the thing it describes no longer exists.
Today's word: Green-sickness is defined by James Stormonth's Dictionary of the English, Language published in 1884, as "A disease in which the person has a sickly paleness, with a green tinge of the complexion, chiefly confined to unmarried females.
According to Zell’s Popular Encyclopedia, published in 1871 “….the cure of this disease are gentle exercise in open air, with nutritious and rather stimulating diet, sea-bathing, and agreeable society."
As much as I identify as a feminist, there are time I wouldn't mind being able to fain "green-sickness".
Of course then I’m reminded that today is the Feast Eve of St. Agnes, a day when unmarried females would fast and pray to the patroness of chastity all day long and then drink a concoction of dried worms and white wine before going to bed in order to induce dreams of the man they would one day marry.

I can’t help but wonder if green-sickness wasn't perhaps induced by that kind of diet and “cure.” I have to say this kind of thing makes me very glad to be an educated woman living in an educated, 21 century society.
All of this, of course has nothing to do with anything. Just thought I would share.

1 comment:

The Bug said...

I turned a little green just reading about that concoction - and I'm married!