31 Jan 2023

Caught Red-Handed

Q. Afraid to ask, but where does the expression ‘caught red-handed’ come from? . A. Caught Red-Handed Blood on their hands. Today, if you’re ‘caught red-handed,’ you’ve been busted in the midst of a transgression; there’s no denying what you’ve done. The phrase dates back to 15th Century Scotland where the

12 Jan 2023

Wedding Bells

Q. Do I hear wedding bells? Well, I hope so; always excited to celebrate couples in the joy of a wedding. How did the ‘wedding bell’ phrase become so ubiquitous, and what are some unique ways in which couples incorporate bells into their wedding days? . A. As Judy Garland

29 Dec 2022

Powdered Wigs

Q. We’ve all seen the bewigged portraits – from Bach to Mozart, Louis IV to Marie Antoinette. The wigs make for some seriously fabulous head drama, but why did those who could afford perukes wear them? And what was in that powder? . A. After 17th Century aristocrats popularized mountainous

16 Nov 2022

Lurid Lockets

Q. “What I want from you is your voice.” Ursula the savage Sea Witch is bargaining with Disney’s Ariel. As collateral for temporarily turning Ariel’s tail into human legs, Ursula will seize The Little Mermaid’s ethereal voice. Ariel clutches her neck while Ursula elaborates. “No more talking, singing, zip.” To

22 Sep 2022

Second Breakfast For Hobbit Day

Q. Happy Hobbit Day! September 22nd is for hobbitses as it marks both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays. So: take off your shoes, grab a cloak and a girdle, and let’s get celebrating. In honour of Tolkien’s hobbits, it is only fair that we eat second breakfasts all week. But,

22 Aug 2022

Is My Jam Your Jam?

Q. Overheard: “Biz Dev is my jam!” How does that sentence make you feel? i. Cool! Right. Biz Dev. Jam. ii. Meh. iii. Eww. How did the latter phrase – ‘my jam’ – come to represent something the speaker particularly likes? . A. Being ‘jammed’ can be associated with unpleasantness

17 Aug 2022

Everything’s Coming Up Danger

Q. What are some of the more unusual meanings that the Victorians assigned to flowers? . A. For 1800s floral bliss and horror, look to Kate Greenaway, an illustrator and author born 1846 in Hoxton, England. Alongside the nursery rhymes and bedtime tunes in the Treasury of Kate Greenaway, you’ll

29 Jun 2022

Honey Moon?

Q. How did post-wedding bliss travel come to be called a ‘honeymoon’? . A. Some say the just-wedded bliss of the ‘honeymoon’ – or the ‘hony moone’ as it was called in Olde English – gets its name from the sweetness of honey and the short-lived prominence of the moon.

16 May 2022

A Penny For Luck

Q. What are some of the many luck-inspired superstitions centred around pennies? . A. One thing is for certain: there are a lot. Here in Canada, you better hold on tight to the pennies you have. Our Royal Mint stopped making the ‘costs more to make one than have one’

25 Apr 2022

Gird Your What?

Q. ‘Gird your loins.’ Do you hear Stanley Tucci voicing that phrase? I certainly do. Boss Miranda Priestly, aka the incredible Meryl Streep, is foot out of the car, eyes on the elevator, and soon to thunder into the offices of Runway Magazine. “Why is no one REAdy?” Tucci as