el cumpleaños del año

Today is New Year’s Day, which we might consider the year’s birthday. Spanish would render that unfamiliar but quaint phrase el cumpleaños del año, using the word año twice. The first time is in cumpleaños, meaning literally ‘filling out [an exact number of] years,’ therefore ‘a birthday.’ The second time is as ‘year’ in its own right, año, which is the descendant of the synonymous Latin annus. From Latin anniculus, the diminutive of annus, Spanish has añejo, which describes things like wine and ham that have been ‘aged for at least a year.’ People apply the adjective to hams, cheeses, and—appropriate to last night—alcoholic beverages like wine and ron añejo ‘aged rum.’

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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