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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Nuts and Bolts: a most important saints' day.

Today, February 14, of course, commemorates the saint...

...well, who do you think?...

...yes, it's St Cyril and St Methodius!

Let's hear it for the guys!

Yay!

(What? No, no, St Valentine is just a made-up thing. Probably something to do with birds pairing up at this time of year and the sale of pink velvet. Sorry.)

Anyway, St Cyril and St Methodius;

Cyril-methodius-small.jpg
painting by Zohari Zograf

were missionaries, and they were the first people to write down the Bible down in Old Church Slavonic. They did this some time between their arrival in Moravia (that's mostly part of the Czech Republic, now) and the expulsion of their students, so that's between 863 and 885 AD. Old Church Slavonic had quite a lot of sounds not represented in the Latin alphabet, so to do this it's said they invented the glagolitic alphabet, the present-day version of which we call, yes, cyrillic. It's used most famously in Russia and Ukraine.

The only slight problem is that Cyril wasn't called Cyril at the time. He took on that name when he became a monk, shortly before his death on 14 February 869. Until then he was called by his birth name of Constantine. (And Methodius, for that matter, was originally called Michael, but hey...)

The Glagolitic alphabet proved to be jolly good at writing down Old Church Slavonic, and was used in Croatia right up to the 1800s.

SS Cyril and Methodius have, moreover, absolutely nothing to do with roses or pink velvet... 

...though I suppose you could possibly wear a long grey beard in their honour.

Word To Use Today: glagolitic is a bit pf a gargle, but never mind. It comes from the Old Church Slavonic glagol which means utterance.




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