Adrienne Shapiro and her husband Kit Transue (my stepson) festooned in lights in a wonderful tribute to the season (today being the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, a day to shine light against the dark):


And here I get to explain that today, December 21st, is Festoonus Eve, aka PeneFestoonus (‘almost Festoonus’, with the prefix pen(e)- ‘almost’ of peninsula, penumbra, penultimate, and penecontemporaneous) or the Day Before Festoonus.

You don’t know Festoonus? It’s a secular and non-commercial holiday, every year on December 22nd, to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance — like Diwali, Hanukkah, St. Lucy’s Day, Walpurgis Night, and the Chinese Lantern Festival all rolled into one, but without the baggage. Festoonus and Festoonus Eve are both occasions for elaborate light shows, decorating your bodies, sharing exotic food, dancing, and making public and communal art and music.

On these days, festoon lighting is everywhere, including wrapped around Adrienne and Kit. From a supplier:

Festoon Lights are popular both indoors and out, with big bulbs and bags of character.

Available in a huge range of colours and styles, festoon lighting is a popular choice for weddings and events, as well as gardens in need of light and character or a bold interior design lighting choice. Whether you’re throwing a party or want to add something special to your outdoor space, our collection of beautiful festoon lights really does have something for everyone.

We have everything you need to get started with festoon lighting; different length belts, connectable lighting, a wide range of bulbs and controller cables with LED dimmers, it is easy to light up any space.

24v LED Festoon Lighting from another supplier:


Festoonus is itself a lead-in the the better-known holiday Festivus, on the 23rd. That is, Festoonus is Festivus Eve, PeneFestivus (which, as we’ll see, makes it PreantepenXmas), or the Day Before Festivus. On Festivus, from Wikipedia:


Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season. Originally created by author Daniel O’Keefe, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Strike”, which O’Keefe’s son, Dan O’Keefe, co-wrote.

The non-commercial holiday’s celebration, as depicted on Seinfeld, occurs on December 23 and includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, practices such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”, and the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles”.

Falling on December 23rd, Festivus is Xmas Eve Eve, or AntepenXmas. On the 24th, it’s Xmas Eve, PenXmas ( /ˌpɛˈnɛksmǝs/ ), or the Day Before Xmas. And the whole thing culminates on Xmas itself, on the 25th. Which is followed by PostXmas, the 26th, on which day also fall Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and St. Stephen’s Day, not to mention massive commercial roiling.

Note in passing 1: on arcane terms from the description of accent placement in words:

ultimate accent: on the ultima, the last or final syllable in the word

penultimate accent: on the penult, the next-to-last syllable, the second to the end

antepenultimate accent: on the antepenult (before the penult), the third to the end

preantepenultimate accent: on the preantepenult (before the antepenult), the fourth to the end

So Festoonus, on the 22nd, is PreantepenXmas; Festivus is AntepenXmas; and Xmas Eve is PenXmas.

Note in passing 2: the (infrequent) English prefix pen(e)- is historically connected to Latin paene ‘almost’ and has nothing to do with Latin penis ‘tail, male sexual organ’.

Final note: on the admirable word festoon. From my 12/14/18 posting “Appearances”: image #1 there is of 1950s physique model Mel Fortune festooning his package with garlands of Xmas tinsel stars, and there’s a digression on the noun and verb festoon.

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