Remind you of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof?
Well, ‘tis the holiday season, so the word Tradition naturally popped into my brain. Let’s open up this word and take a look at what’s inside, shall we?
Wow. I opened up my Webster’s New World College Dictionary to the T’s and got a big Word Nerd surprise. Didn’t see this coming in any way, shape, or form. Believe me, I had to rub my eyes and re-read several times to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake.
Tradition came to use through Middle English, and Middle French, from the Latin traditio, meaning, “a surrender, delivery, tradition,” from tradere, “to deliver.” The first, obsolete, definition of Tradition is “a surrender or betrayal.”
Then you read the words, “see TREASON.”
What? Tradition and Treason come from the same root?
A page flip or two over to the word treason, and—yep. Treason comes from Latin tradere, to give or deliver over or up (trans = “across”, dare = to give). Don’t ask me how we got Treason from trans and dare. It is what it is, yes?
So, I will put on my Word Nerd thinking cap. (Just a second. I have to run to the closet for it…I didn’t think this word would be this surprising.)
Trans means “across”
Dare means “give”
Which is exactly what you are doing when you hand down or share traditions…you are giving across to someone your values and beliefs, your sense of family and community.
And see? Noah Webster’s 1823 Dictionary agrees with me:
“1. Delivery; the act of delivering into the hands of another.
A deed takes effect only from the tradition or delivery.
The sale of a movable is completed by simple tradition.
2. The delivery of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites and customs from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity; the transmission of any opinions or practice from forefathers to descendants by oral communication, without written memorials. Thus children derive their vernacular language chiefly from tradition. Most of our early notions are received by tradition from our parents.
3. That which is handed down from age to age by oral communication. The Jews pay great regard to tradition in matters of religion, as do the Romanists. Protestants reject the authority of tradition in sacred things, and rely only on the written word. Traditions may be good or bad, true or false.
Stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thess. 2.
Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your traditions? Matt. 15.”
Blessings as you share your values, beliefs, family, and community this holiday season!
WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: How many words can you come up with that also come from Latin dare, to give?
Merry CHRISTmas! Voni