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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How About Some Coffee, Bingo, And A Little Bog

Our new reference books sit directly opposite the reference desk. I have been tempted by Holy Bingo, the Lingo of Eden, Jumpin' Jehosophat and the Land of Nod since we got it in a few weeks ago and I finally heaved myself out of my comfortable chair to take a look. Here are a few of my favorites:
The X that illiterates make in place of their signature is actually a cross. Among the Saxons it was the sign of a holy oath and it was customary to add a cross to the signatures of those who could write, as well as using it as a sign of good faith for those who could not. Illiterate Jews signed their names with a small circle to avoid using a Christian symbol (68).

I find this fascinating! Of course, I was ruined for life when I read Jean Fritz's book Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? when I was eight. The cross or circle simply wouldn't have been fancy enough for me; I wanted this:

Bog is the Russian word for God. In 1930 a new schoolbook was issued containing a poem in which the word was used. The atheists in the Kremlin were horrified to discover that the word had been capitalized throughout. One million copies of the book had to be recalled and 16 pages retypeset so that Soviet children would not be "contaminated" by exposure to Bog with a capital (43).
I keep visualizing the scene from Europa, Europa where the teachers convince the students that Stalin is sending them candies from the heavens. They certainly did go to great lengths to preserve their new atheist state!
Holy Bingo
In the 19th century Christian missionaries in Africa introduced the game of bingo along with the Bible. Many Africans began to associate the Christian heaven with the game, specifically a winner's joyous shout of "Bingo." As a result, bingo became the word for Heaven in many languages (111).

I suppose this means that Stalin wasn’t a big Bingo fan.
In 17th century England the drinking of coffee, especially in coffeehouses, became all the rage. The Puritans were against the consumption of coffee because it led to idleness and loose talk. The drinkers would
"Trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking, nauseous puddle water" -The Women's Petition Against Coffee (1674) (63).
Join me, fellow anti-coffee people! We'll go play some Bingo instead.

Harding, Les. Holy Bingo, the Lingo of Eden, Jumpin' Jehosophat and the Land of Nod: A Dictionary of the Names, Expressions and Folklore of Christianity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2006. Print.

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