This New Year’s Eve there will be some reference and discussion that there is a “Blue Moon”. The English language uses many figures of speech and idioms in general discourse. To define an idiom is almost as vague as the idiom itself. In an illustration on Dictionary.Com, we find this attempt at definition: “A style or manner of expression peculiar to a given people: ‘Also important is the uneasiness I've always felt at cutting myself off from my idiom, the American habits of speech and jest and reaction, all of them entirely different from the local variety’ (S.J. Perelman).”
What is a Blue Moon? What does the expression – Once In A Blue Moon – mean? Is there any significance to a Blue Moon? Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers wrote the words and music to the song – Blue Moon – in 1934. Do their lyrics give any definition or deeper understanding of the expression? They wrote:
Without a love of my own,
Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for,
You heard me saying a prayer for,
Someone I could care for,
Someone my arms could really hold,
I heard you whisper "Darling please adore me,"
And when I looked to the moon it had turned to gold,
Blue moon, now I'm no longer alone, Without a dream in my heart,
Without a love of my own.
What is a “Blue Moon” and why does something occur “Once In A Blue Moon”? Wikipedia echoes the general conclusions regarding the Blue Moon: “A Blue Moon is a full moon that is not timed to the regular monthly pattern. Most years have twelve full moons which occur approximately monthly, but in addition to those twelve full lunar cycles, each solar calendar year contains an excess of roughly eleven days compared to the lunar year. The extra days accumulate, so that every two or three years (on average about every 2.7154 years), there is an extra full moon. The extra moon is called a "Blue Moon”. Different definitions place the "extra" moon at different times. The term "Blue Moon" is commonly used metaphorically to describe the rarity of an event, as in the idiomatic expression, ‘Once In A Blue Moon’." In the news this morning, an article cleverly utilizes a play on words when it states: “Once In A Blue Moon there is one on New Year's Eve. Revelers ringing in 2010 will be treated to a so-called “Blue Moon”. According to popular definition, a “Blue Moon” is the second full moon in a month. But don't expect it to be blue - the name has nothing to do with the color of our closest celestial neighbor. A full moon occurred on Dec. 2. It will appear again on Thursday in time for the New Year's countdown…” The reference is more to the rarity of the occurrence and has no other meaningful significance.
Biblical Idioms (or Hebraisms) require more study and understanding than they are normally given. A couple of examples are: “The terms "destroy" and "fulfill" (I have not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it) from Matthew 5:17-18. These are part of rabbinical argumentation. When it was felt that a sage had misinterpreted a passage, it was said he had "destroyed" the Torah. When it was felt he had interpreted correctly, it was said he had "fulfilled" it. In light of this, paraphrase of these verses could be, "I have not come to abolish the Torah, but to complete it - to make the meaning full" – Jesus did not come to abolish, but to make full the meaning of what Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. This in no way contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture that we "are saved by grace alone, not works, lest any man should boast." Words and phrases found in Mark 10:38 - "Drink the cup I drink" which is a Jewish expression that means to share someone's fate; John 9:24 "Give glory to God" which comes from Joshua 7:19 and is a solemn charge, a promise under oath to tell the truth; Acts 28:27 "they hear heavily with their ears" which means they are slow to understand.” Once In A Blue Moon is fanciful and maybe romantic; understanding Biblical narrative and intent is practical and vital. Consider these things with me!