Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis the season

“’Tis the season to be jolly...” It’s nice that we have a season to be jolly, otherwise, how would we know when to be? Most importantly, I wouldn’t want to be jolly out of season. What a terrible faut pas that would be. How embarrassing to be the only jolly person in, ermmm, grumpy season. When is the season to be grumpy, anyway? Or is that every other time?

It seems that the word jolly derives from the Old French jolif, which in turn may derive from the Old Norwegian word jol, which in turn may be related to “Yule”. Lots of maybes and might bes and possibles in this etymology. So it may indeed be the case that we can only be jolly at Yuletide, because to be jolly is to be “yuley”: full of the Yuletide spirit.

Being jolly is a little bit weird anyway, isn’t it? It’s not just being happy. Jolliness seems to involve a great deal of chuckling and the bouncing of body parts. There is a certain physicality to jolliness that is lacking in mere happiness.

Thinking about it, it is probably just as well that jolly-season is limited. I can well imagine that I might want to shoot someone who was jolly all the time. But for today, be jolly. Chuckle; bounce body parts, your own and other people’s. But be sure to limit your unbridled jolliness to Yuletide.


Bon Noël to those who celebrate it; Bonnes Fêtes to those who don’t. Either way, have some jolly jollification.

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