Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 24, 2009

Fum, Fum, Fum!

We’ll celebrate the holiday by taking a brief break until next Monday. You’ll have other things to do for the next couple of days than cruise around to this site, anyway, like figuring out which ones of those fruit cakes will withstand freezing so that you can regift them next year.

One brief holiday season thought before I make the final shopping assault. I always wondered about that Christmas carol, “Fum, Fum, Fum” (pronounced “foom”).

What an odd word it is, after all. We’re accustomed to think of our traditional holiday songs as being English or, at least British, or maybe German or French. I never thought those words sounded particularly like they came from those languages. There is of course, “Adeste Fidelis” and the other odd Latin lyric here and there, so I thought maybe “fum” was an obscure Latin word.

Without doing more thorough research than clicking around on the Internet, I found this article informing us that it was originally a Catalan song, according to the author of the piece, who seems to know what he’s talking about. His article suggests that “fum” may be onomatopoeic, imitating a musical instrument, like a guitar.

Perhaps one of you has more info about this song than I’ve found, and can share it with us.

P.S. Oddly enough, this is my second article to have the word “fum” in the title, the other being about Jack the Giant Killer, HERE. I swear these two articles aren’t related, but it is an odd coincidence. Perhaps the one idea suggested the other. If you click on the link a few paragraphs back to access the info about the song, you may see that also got inquiries about that phrase, “fee fie fo fum.” There’s no authoritative answer posted, but I think we’re safe in concluding that it’s a nonsense phrase.

Have a very merry holiday! If you’re waiting for your card, they’ll be New Year’s cards again this year. Now in production.



  1. well, you seem serious, i’ve checked everyday, and no new posts!


  2. _Bazaar Behavior Over the Holidays_

    We have three Chinese rugs in our home: one very good quality large one in the dining room; one small round one of average quality in the oak plank entry hall; and one cheap 2′ x 8′ machine-made runner we got at Lowe’s for the family room when we changed from carpet to an oak plank floor about 4 years ago.

    During December, I put the Lowe’s rug away to see how the family room would look without any rug on the oak floor. After about 3 weeks, I thought the room looked a little empty, so I brought it back out. What a revelation! After not looking at the rug for awhile, it then occurrred to me that this rug actually was in pretty poor condition. A lousy rug next to our nice new Ethan Allen love seat — not pretty. (This cheap rug was never really a good fit even when new: although the colors and pattern worked, it was about 2′ too long, and a half foot too narrow.)

    However, despite this new revelation and the obvious need for change, I was in no great hurry to rush out and do anything about it. After all, this was football season, and more important things beckoned. The rug could wait, right?

    Well, maybe not. On a Sunday football afternoon, my wife and I were reading our favorite sections of The Times. My wife came across a ‘year end sale’ ad by a local oriental rug shop. “Look,” she said, “they have 3 stores, and one’s very close to us. Why don’t we hop on over there and see what they have?”

    I demurred to such a bizarre notion: “What, go shopping on a mere whim? Without first reviewing 10 years of back issues of Consumer Reports, Googling 100 internet sites about oriental rugs, or at least calling all of our neighbors and distant relatives?” We went. Right away. No Big Game this Sunday. So why not?

    I brought into the store a pillow from our sofa to use as a sort of color swatch. Blue and Yellow FLORAL pattern with Green leaves, on a white background. The Persian sales lady ignored it. I told her that we were interested in a runner for our family room. She trotted out about a dozen runners, mostly in blazing RED, with a lot of GEOMETRIC patterns.

    As my wife and I hemmed and hawed, the sales lady remained unperturbed. Out came more rugs, of the same ilk. I threw the FLORAL pattern pillow on top of one of the GEOMETRIC pattern rugs, just to attempt in my subtle way to make a point. “By the way,” I then said, “we don’t have any RED in our family room.” Our Persian was utterly unfazed by what seemed to me, the obvious. “No problem,” the sales lady shot right back, “you’re not hanging it up on the wall; you’re walking on it. You won’t even notice.”

    She then snatched up our pillow, clutching it tightly as though it were a prohibitively-expensive Louis Vuitton purse in danger of being stolen, just to make sure I didn’t pull my little color pattern comparison stunt again.

    Now, I’m not into “avant garde,” “edgy,” or “making a statement.” Therefore, these rug colors and patterns (NONE Chinese or floral) did not quite seem to fit with my concept of harmony in our family room. I did not want sibling rivalry between the sofa and the rug, as they each competed for attention. For me Henri Matisse’s title for one of his paintings of St. Tropez pretty much summed up my philosophy: “Calme, Luxe, et Volupte.” Now, I might not have luxury or voluptuousness, but I do have, or at least seek, calm.

    So, making no headway against the sales lady’s continuing barrage of RED, GEOMETRIC patterns from India and Persia, I walked over to a four foot high pile of what from a distance looked like CHINESE rugs. I started thumbing through them, top to bottom. I have to say, a four foot high pile of hand woven wool rugs is really heavy!

    I finally made my way down to about three rugs from the bottom. One looked promising. “Hey,” I blurted out, “how about this one?!” One of the store helpers moved Heaven and Earth to pull that one out of the stack, all without managing to cause a minor earthquake.

    Voila! I had found our rug. My wife loved it: CHINESE; BLUE, GREEN and YELLOW colors; in FLORAL PATTERNS. The Perfect Size: 2 1/2′ x 6′, it would extend just beyond the boundaries of the 5′ long sofa and cover a nice part of the floor — not too long or too narrow this time.

    It looked like the rug designer had our sofa in mind when this rug was made. Not the very same patterns as our sofa –we didn’t want boring, identical repetition anyway. But very harmonious and complementary with the decor and colors in our family room. And even a little hint of dark red, here and there, as accents –just for the sales lady!


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