Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Betweens

My eleven year old son and I drove to a nearby town for my doctor visit and so he could have a bigger selection of games on which to spend some Christmas money. On the way we talked about the language of meals.

I am from an in-between generation in the south. My parents ate breakfast, dinner, and supper. Non-southerners ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So from my family I got one language and from television I got another language. My kids have much less confusion since their parents are muddled, while the television is clear.

The only thing I cannot figure out in all this is the meal at school when I was young. We ate lunch--I don't know why. Everyone's parents knew that the noon meal was dinner, but their kids ate lunch at school. In fact, Huey Long, noteworthy socialist governor of Louisiana, provided free lunches, not dinners, at school.

I would love to blame the national government for the confusion at school, but in Huey Long's day the federal government stayed out of schools.

The word "dinner" is first recorded in the year 1297 and meant "the main meal of the day." Dinner was originally the first meal of the day, but eventually became the noon meal. "Lunch" is first recorded in 1829, however "luncheon" dates from 1580. In either case, "dinner" predates "lunch" by centuries.

Why did we have to change it!?

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