By George!

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Uncategorized

By George, it’s Washington’s Birthday! Our nation’s first president was born on this day in 1732. We may have gotten a day off this past Monday to celebrate but, I cannot tell a lie, George probably blew out his candles on this day, not the third Monday of February. We celebrate President’s Day earlier this week to acknowledge not just GW but Abraham Lincoln as well, whose actual birthday was February 12. I hope this information doesn’t come as a surprise, wonder, or astonishment. Because, if it does, that’s the definition of the expletive “By George!”

“By George” has sometimes been thought to refer to our past president, but its usage goes even further back and across the pond to England. Some historians claim it is an old-fashioned minced oath in which “George” is a substitute for “God.” Using another “G” word helps avoid the blasphemy of our Lord’s name, similarly to how today we say, “Oh my gosh!” or “Oh my goodness!” Others have claimed the phrase was shortened from “By (God and Saint) George” as an Old English motivating oath used immediately before charging into battle. Either origin still drops the negative use of our Lord’s name.

You may say, “For Pete’s sake,” instead of “Who cares?”  Well, maybe Pete cares. But we may have to wait until we get to the pearly gates of heaven to ask him. I wonder if he is offended by the expression. You see, “For Christ’s sake” was substituted for Pete, a more personal-buddy reference to Jesus’ top disciple Saint Peter. I guess it’s preferable to insult Simon Peter than to use the Lord’s name in vain.

You probably don’t know whoever came up with these phrases from Adam. Sorry, another biblical reference. This idiom refers to the generic use of Adam, the first man named in Genesis. It means we wouldn’t know the person among any other stranger. But, one thing is certain, the users of these phrases were observant of the Third Commandment:  not to make wrongful use of the Lord’s name.

This Sunday, we invite you to also obey the next Commandment, remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy. Join us for worship at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 36 East John Street, Lindenhurst, on Sunday, February 25 at 9:30 AM. A copy of Sunday’s worship bulletin is attached.

Pastor Marc