Fasten your fascinators and let us festinate to the feast and festival! Our finery will be infested with festivity and will foster neither fasting nor fustian fussiness. Oh, make haste! There is mickle shopping to do and so many people to party with. Molecules may be slowed by cold, but the advent of the cool dark (and the cool dark of Advent) causes the bodies on sidwalks and in malls to bounce and vibrate ever quicklier. Yes, festinate!

Not that festinate has an etymological relation to feast and festival. Those latter words are from a Latin root meaning just what they mean, while festinate comes from the Latin verb festinare, which means ‘make haste, go fast’ (as does festinate). But our word fast meaning both ‘speedy’ and ‘fixed in place’ (see also fasten) comes not from that but from a Germanic root. So does our word fast meaning ‘don’t eat’, but a different root. Fascinating, eh?

Well, whatever. I hardly need to hasten you to your innate festive inclination to get mixed up in it and taste fine and eat finest – and to hop to the shopping, so that you may give and get. Or, if you are observing Hanukkah, to have a fest in eight days. Or, if you hold to no holiday, just to hurry around so you can enjoy a little break, if you get to – because if you don’t, you’re sure to be festinating because of others’ festing. But in that case, may I suggest you follow the Italian advice and festina lente: make haste slowly.

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