Red-Letter Day

The term “red letter day” refers to the practice, dating back to the Roman Empire, of using red calendar numbers to signify important days. Although this was (and still is) a common practice for perhaps a couple of thousand years, the actual term “red-letter day” wasn’t used in print until 1663. Unlike so many words and terms that have begun to mean the opposite of their original meanings (bully originally meant a darling; harlot originally meant a goofy fellow; naughty originally meant having naught; nice originally meant silly; silly originally meant blessed), the meaning of “red-letter day” seems to have remained unchanged for centuries.

Despite this discussion of “red-letter days,” today is more of a “white blossom day” than a “red-letter day” because the blossoms are what make this such a momentous day. “What blossoms?” you might ask.

The blossoms on the greengage plum tree I planted last year. Those blossoms. And oh! They are so pretty, and such a sign of hope.

Flowers of all kinds seem to symbolize hope, of course, but fruit blossoms bring with them the added hope of someday having fruit. There might be too few blossoms to merit even a single plum this year, but still, it’s nice seeing the flowers.

Today is also a “black hat day.” My use of the phrase “black hat” isn’t used idiomatically to mean a villain, but is used literally. A neighbor gifted me with a beautiful black hat! A wonderful side effect of being known as “Pat in the Hat,” is that if anyone has a hat to donate, I am the first one to come to mind.

It’s also a grey cloud day, and a pink tulip day, and probably all sorts of other “days,” but all these important days can be found under the single umbrella of “red-letter day.”

I hope you’re having a red-letter day, too.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

2 Responses to “Red-Letter Day”

  1. Joe Says:

    Interesting. I never noticed that about “silly” which is odd because I have known for decades that “seelie” in Scots English means blessed, and “unseelie” means the opposite. There are many legends about the Seelie and Unseelie Courts (good and bad faeries, respectively, and a great story to read about this subject, set in an urban fantasy novel, is “War For The Oaks” by Emma Bull) but I just didn’t put seelie together with silly. How silly of me!


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