Saturday, June 12, 2010

Happy Easter, Judas

The term judas gate came up on a recent program. The caller said that she has encountered it in many British novels. A judas gate is a small door inset into a larger door. British author Jack Higgins wrote a novel with the title The Judas Gate. His unofficial web site contains the following comment:

"Judas gates constantly surface in my book and people have often commented. There is a painting, I think Victorian, which shows a very large double gate. Inset in this gate, is a small door or gate which you can open and step through without the inconvenience of opening the larger double gates. In the painting, Judas is seen stepping through on his way to betray Christ. So, in English factories, you find such a small door set in most big factory gates and they were traditionally known in Yorkshire, a very industrial area where I grew up, as judas gates.”

There is also a device called a judas hole or a judas trap. It is a small lattice or aperture in a door (found in some old houses, mental institutions, or prison cells), through which a person can look without being noticed from the other side. It is also known as a peep-hole.

Then there’s the judas goat. A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to mingle with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter; its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks and cattle cars.

Judas-colored refers to red hair or a red beard. This is because medieval legends contended that Judas, the apostle who betrayed Christ, had red hair. And a judas-kiss takes its name from Gospel accounts that say that Judas identified Jesus to the lurking soldiers by means of a kiss.

SIDEBAR: Family Secrets Trial by Steve Warmbir, Chicago Sun-Times, August 21, 2007
It was Christmas Eve 1996, and reputed Outfit hit man Frank Calabrese Sr. was seeing his brother Nicholas out the door after breaking out the Napoleon brandy, when his brother made an unusual request.
"He walks to the door and says, 'Can I kiss you on the lips?' " Calabrese Sr. recounted to jurors in the Family Secrets trial Monday.
"He kissed me on the lips," Calabrese Sr. said.
Only later, Calabrese Sr. testified, would he realize "the kiss he gave for Christmas was a Judas kiss."

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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