We Gather in Faith
Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis Christian.
A lot of our common sayings have origins that have little
or nothing to do with the way we use them today. But
those origins are interesting and even entertaining. For
“God willing and the creeks don’t rise.” This comes
from Benjamin Hawkins, an American Indian
diplomat, who was called back to Washington. His
reference to creeks was not to bodies of water but to
the Creek Indian tribe. In other words, I’ll be there if
God permits and the Indians behave themselves.
“Mind your own beeswax.” This comes from the 18th
century custom of women spreading bee’s wax over
their facial skin to cover pockmarks caused by acne.
If one woman stared too much at another she was told
to mind her own beeswax.
“Crack a smile” comes from the same custom. If a
woman with a lot of beeswax on her face smiled too
much, it would crack.
“Losing face” is also related to beeswax. If a woman
with it on her face sat too close to the fireplace it
would begin to melt and she would lose some of her
“Minding your p’s and q’s.” At local taverns people
drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar
maid’s jobs was to pay close attention to who drank
what and so she had to mind the p’s and q’s.
“It’ll cost you an arm and a leg.” Prices charged by
painters and sculptors depended upon how many
limbs were to be shown because limbs were harder to
“Chairman” or “Chairman of the Board” In the late
1700’s many houses had only one large room and one
chair. A long wide board folded down from the wall
and was used for dining. The head of the household
sat in the chair and everyone else on the floor. If a
male guest was invited to dinner, he would be invited
to sit in the chair as the place of honor and hence
became for the evening the chairman or the chairman
of the board.
In a hundred years I wonder what customs we have today
will be the source of figures of speech that will have
nothing to do with the original custom.