When the Romans fled before Brennus, one Albinus, who was carrying his wife and children in a cart to a place of safety, overtook at Janiculum the Vestal virgins bending under their load, took them up and conveyed them to Cærë, in Etruria. Here they remained, and continued to perform their sacred rites, which were consequently called “Cære-monia.” (Livy, v.)
Scaliger says the word comes from cerus=sanctus. Cerus manus= Creator; and Cerco (according to Varro) is by metathesis for creo. Ceres, according to Scaliger, is also from creo. By this etymology, “Ceremony” means sacred rites, or solemn acts in honour of the Creator. The great objection to this etymology is that Cicero, Tacitus, and other classic authors spell the word Cære-monia and not Cere-monia.
Master of the Ceremonies. An officer, first appointed by James I., to superintend the reception of ambassadors and strangers of rank, and to prescribe the formalities to be observed in levees and other grand public functions.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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