[lit-ideas] Geary on Purification and Decontamination

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2004 16:28:23 EDT

"The Purification... As first instituted, this was not  a 
Festival of St. Mary, but of our Lord; and so it has 
always remained in the Eastern church." 
J. M. Geary writes (in his commentary on E. Holder's unbirthday): 
>a Jewish custom of 
>decontaminating a
>woman after having given birth.  
and expresses:
>But right now I want to
>know why are women always having 
>to be decontaminated in male religions?
Mmm. Interesting. 'Purification', as Geary notes, is the word.  
Interestingly, the first quote in the OED for 'decontaminate' is 1936 -- and  
mainly to gases. (Below). According to Meyrick, even, purification  applies to 
_Jesus_ (the lord) in the East, etc. Anyway... 

[f. _DE-_ 
&sort_type=alpha&xrefed=OED&xrefword=de-)  II. 1 + _CONTAMINATE_ 
=OED&xrefword=contaminate&ps=v.)   v.]   
To remove contamination or the risk of contamination from (a  person, area, 
etc.) affected by poison gas, radioactivity,  etc. 
1936 Daily Tel. 17 Oct.  13/5  
Cars sped through the  streets carrying men wearing gas-masks, whose task it 
was to decontaminate  â??mustard gasâ?? areas.  
1938  Protection of Your Home against Air Raids 25  
Mustard  gas..â??contaminatesâ?? clothing, or other objects exposed to it, 
making them  dangerous to have near you or to touch until they have been â??
1948 Times 5 Mar. 3/2  
The vessels..were  still so radio-active that the cost of decontaminating 
them..would have been  greater than their value as scrap.  
1958 Observer 12 Oct. 1/3 The package  was elaborately decontaminated both by 
chemicals and radiation to prevent the  placing of any live organisms on the 
moon's surface.  
1971 Nature 5 Feb. 363/2  
Breeders pay too  little attention to the arduous task of decontaminating 
buildings where infected  birds have been housed, before moving in fresh, 

1935 Discovery July 186/2  
The scheme of gas  defence requires..that there should be an organisation for 
the decontamination  of the areas affected.  
1937 Evening  News 15 Mar. 7/1  
Decontamination  squads, who would clear areas sprayed by mustard gas.  
1955 Times 30 May 7/7  
The techniques of  decontamination..: a householder, on emerging from his 
cellar, should  immediately take a broom and sweep down his roof.  
1957 Ibid. 12 Oct. 6/1 Traces of  radioactivity lingered on his hands and he 
was given a pair of surgical gloves  to wear until to-morrow when the 
decontamination process can be completed.  
1966 D. F. GALOUYE Lost Perception ii. 18  
The original airport  had been swallowed by a gaping crater where, even after 
two years,  decontamination crews were still scouring the inner slope.

the observances enjoined upon a woman after child-birth by the Jewish law;  
hence formerly applied to the churching of  women. 

1380 WYCLIF Sel. Wks.  II. 147 
A question was maad  of Joones disciplis of purificacioun, at men hadden of 
1440 Gesta  Rom. lxiv. 276 (Harl. MS.) 
e lawe was at tyme, that eche woman shuld go to  chirche, in tyme of hire 
1485 Digby  Myst. (1882) I. 31 
Our ladies  purificacion that she made in the temple as the vsage was than. 
1548-9 (Mar.) Bk. Com. Prayer, The Order of  the Purificacion of weomen. 
1579-80 NORTH  Plutarch, Romulus (1595) 34 
The feast of  Lupercalia..is ordeined for a purification. 
1789 BUCHAN Dom. Med. (1790) 103 
The Mahometan, as  well as the Jewish religion, enjoins various bathings, 
washings, and  purifications. 
1841 ELPHINSTONE Hist. Ind. I.  I. iv. 83 
More than half of  one book of the [Brahminical] Code is filled with rules 
about purification.

the  Purification of St. Mary 
(of our Lady, etc.), also  simply the  Purification: a name in the Western 
Church  for the festival (Feb. 2) of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple 
gle=1&sort_type=alpha&xrefed=OED&xrefword=presentation)  1) by the  Virgin 
Mary on the completion of â??the days of her purificationâ?? (Luke ii. 22);  
called _CANDLEMAS_ 
le=1&sort_type=alpha&xrefed=OED&xrefword=Candlemas) . 

1389 in Eng.  Gilds (1870) 49  
e secunde morspeche shal bene aftir  e Purificacioun of our leuedy.  e thred, 
aftir e feste of Phelip and iacob. 
1444 Paston  Lett. I. 50 
Wretyn..the  Wednesday next to fore ye Fest of the Purificacion of Our Lady 
at London. 
1548 HALL  Chron., Hen. VIII 22b, 
After the  Purificacion of our Lady, the Kyng created Sir Charles Brandon 
Viscount Lisle. 
1670 PETTUS Fodinæ Reg. 18 
To hold from the  Feast of the Purification next, for 40 years. 
1880 F. MEYRICK in Dict. Chr. Antiq. II. 1140/2 
The Purification...  As first instituted, this was not a Festival of St. 
Mary, but of our Lord; and  so it has always remained in the Eastern  church.

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