Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday - March 3, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy aka Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.


yartzheit - "No, a yartzheit candle." (p. 4)

yartzheit: The use of a yahrzeit candle is a widely practiced custom, where mourners light a yahrzeit candle that burns for 24 hours, on the anniversary of the death on the Hebrew calendar. The word "yahrzeit" (Yiddish: יאָרצײַט yortsayt ) itself means "anniversary" (or more specifically "anniversary [of a person's death]") in Yiddish, originating from German 'Jahr', year, and 'Zeit', time. It is customary to light the candle inside one's home, or near the grave of the deceased. The candle is also lit on Yom Kippur and there are also customs to light a yahrzeit candle on the dates when yizkor is said (Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, seventh day of Pesach, and Shavuot). It is also customary to light the candle during the shiva, usually a larger one that lasts the entire seven days. The custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle comes from the Book of Proverbs 20:27 "The soul of man is a candle of the Lord."

The custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle for the deceased is very widespread and deeply ingrained in Jewish life. Many Jews who are otherwise unobservant follow this custom. Today, some people use an electric yahrheit candle that plugs into the wall instead of an actual candle for safety reasons. Today, some people use an electric yahrheit candle that plugs into the wall instead of an actual candle for safety reasons.

kushtaka - It was David Livingstone, a man, a shaman, who had done battle with a force much more powerful than him, and had lost; but in exchange for a price he had not agreed upon, he had been spared from becoming one of the undead, from being forever transformed into a kushtaka. (p. 70)

kushtaka: Kushtaka are mythical creatures found in the stories of the Tlingit and Tsimshian Indians of Southeastern Alaska. Loosely translated, kushtaka means, "land otter man".

They are similar to the Nat'ina of the Dan'aina Indians of South Central Alaska, and the Urayuli of the Eskimos in Northern Alaska.

Physically, kushtaka are shape-shifters capable of assuming either human form or the form of an otter. In some accounts, a kushtaka is able to assume the form of any species of otter; in others, only one. Accounts of their behaviour seem to conflict with one another. In some stories, kushtaka are cruel creatures who take delight in tricking poor Tlingit sailors to their deaths. In others, they are friendly and helpful, frequently saving the lost from death by freezing. In many stories, the kushtaka save the lost individual by distracting them with curiously otter-like illusions of their family and friends as they transform their subject into a fellow kushtaka, thus allowing him to survive in the cold. Naturally, this is counted a mixed blessing. However, kushtaka legends are not always pleasant. In some legends it is said the kushtaka will imitate the cries of a baby or the screams of a woman to lure victims to the river. Once there, the kushtaka either kills the person and tears them to shreds or will turn them into another kushtaka.

Legends have it kushtaka can be warded off through copper, urine, and in some stories fire.

Since the kushtaka mainly preys on small children, it has been thought by some that it was used by Tlingit mothers to keep their children from wandering close to the ocean by themselves. -- wikipedia

What new words did you discover this week?

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Those are both new to me. I don't think I'll be using either one anytime soon, though. Thanks for participating!