When i moved to Pennsylvania in the 1990s, I learned that there was a Mummer’s Parade every January 1.Â From observation, i concluded that Mummers wereÂ mimics, with alcohol added and brains deleted in many cases. I never have figured out why they parade on January 1, though.Â
Lancaster used to have a Doo Dah Parade in the summer.Â Â Doo Dahs claimed to be witless,but actually, many entries were witty, including a drill team of people in three piece suits carrying attache cases, and a team sponsored by a radio station, where the drill team all carried boomboxes, and were tuned to the radio station’s music.Â More and more, though, it turned into a water war between entriesÂ and the crowd, and it escalated from Super Shooters to one team driving a retired fire truck in the parade the last year.Â The BigLpts/OddLots people dropped their sponsorship at that point, thinking someone was going to get hurt.
In any case, there *surely* is someone here who can explains why there is an organization of mummers in Philly. and why they parade on January 1.
While thinking of January 1, I thought about the various Polar bear celebrations, and a comment I once heard about an incident at once such event.Â The lady made a joke, saying that the aggrieved party “wasn’t exactly grassed off”, and everybody laughed (including me) but in my encroaching senility, i no longer know what the idiom “to be grassed off” means, and I can’t find it a dictionary.com, urban dictionary, etc.Â I seem to think it has something to do with a personality conflict and spiteful retaliation, but I’m not sure if the one who is grassed off is taking revenge or getting it.
deaconB asks about the idiom “to be grassed off” and thinks it might have to do with “personality conflict, and spiteful retaliation”. Nothing helpful showed up on a Google search, but during a second look, the phrase “grassed up” appeared as a suggestion. Google’s ability to find things near the search term was pretty handy in this case, though maybe not for deaconB’s question.
Here’s a selection from Phrase Finder (http://phrases.org.uk/meanings/grass-up.html)Â
“Grass up: [to] Inform on someone to the police… In 2005, British newspapers picked up on a story about a burglar who had stolen cash, jewellery and an African Grey parrot from a house near Hungerford, Berkshire. David Carlile, widely described in the press as ‘feather-brained’, explained to the police that he knew that African Greys could talk and he didn’t want the bird to ‘grass him up’…Â
‘Grassing up’ has been a commonly used expression in the UK since the mid 20th century, but is less common elsewhere. The first known use of ‘grass’ in that context is Arthur Gardner’s Tinker’s Kitchen, 1932, which defined a grass as “an informer”…
It could just have arisen from ‘snake in the grass’, which derives from the writings of Virgil (in Latin, as ‘latet anguis in herba’) and has been known in English, meaning traitor, since the late 17th century.There is another route to the word and this is via rhyming slang. Farmer and Henley’s 1893 Dictionary of Slang defines ‘grasshopper’ as ‘copper’, that is, policeman. The theory is that a ‘grass’ is someone who works for the police and so has become a surrogate ‘copper’.”
Or is it possible that “brassed off” was the idiom? World Wide Words (www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bra2.htm) has this:
“…it’s a slang expression for “fed up; disgruntled”…
Brassed off could come from somebody having had a telling off from a superior officer, since senior officers were commonly called “the brass”, and very senior ones “the top brass”, in reference to the amount of gilt on their uniforms. Eric Partridge, in his 1948 book A Dictionary of Forces’ Slang, says it is connected to that job, often given as a punishment, of polishing the brasswork on board ships (frequently done with a product called Brasso). So to be brassed off could just mean that you have been doing some piece of mindless scut work and are thoroughly disgruntled as a result.”
Both uses suggest some opportunities for personality conflict, spite, and retaliation, but I still can’t tell if that’s what deaconB was after.
Wikipedia’s article on the Mummers Parade gives its history. Apparently, it may be the oldest folk festival in the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummers_Parade
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