Some of our neighbors exhibit the same variety of laziness as Geoff Pullum’s:

Some of the more antisocial neighbours near where we live did not bother to bestir themselves with a snow shovel the way we did after the big early snowfall that hit the Boston area on December 9. Their laziness, plus some partial meltings and re-freezings, has turned parts of the sidewalks between our Inman Square apartment and the Harvard/Radcliffe area into a treacherous glacier.

He goes on to provide a lesson in the various forms of the verbs lie and lay, in the process quoting one of my favorite carols (understandably, since my given name is Stephen):

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay all about
Deep and crisp and even

The feast of Stephen, otherwise known as Boxing Day in some quarters, is tomorrow; for today, let me wish all my readers a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (which begins today), or whichever other greetings may be applicable or welcome.
(For the origins of Christmas words, see here, and here‘s the parallel page for Hanukkah.)


  1. Happy Christmas (I like the British way better than “Merry”) and Happy Chanukah! Happy holidays! What’s the “feast of Stephen”? Who’s Stephen?

  2. Saint Stephen Protomartyr (the first martyr).

  3. Oh yeah, I know about Stephen. But where does the “feast” come from, and why does he have a special day?
    Actually, Stephen was a martyr in a long line of martyrs (if you count the Old Testament prophets who were stoned, etc. to death).

  4. aldiboronti says

    The feast is in the old sense of the word, ‘a religious day appointed to be held with rejoicing’. Festival is from the same Latin root, ‘festus’.

  5. aldiboronti says

    BTW I think Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

  6. And I have a perfect excuse for the above befuddlement (parroting what Steve had already said about his namesake) as it’s Christmas!

  7. Thanks–I didn’t know “feast” meant that.

  8. This is an interesting thing to know. Anyways, Merry Christmas to all here.

  9. An excuse to retail a terrible *joke* told by the conductor at a Christmas musical evening at the Barbican Hall in London on Dec. 23
    What was King Wenceslas’ favourite food?
    Pizza – because it’s deep pan crisp and even ….

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