VI: Laurestine

I'm sorry, but this one has to be about poop.

VI: Laurestine
Lauristinus blooming. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Good morning. Today is sextidi, the 6th of Pluviôse, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate le laurier-thym, a shrub that keeps its green leaves and pops out white flowers in winter.

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I never put much stock in "the meaning of flowers" lists. While the big names like roses and lilies and tulips may indeed have longstanding traditional meanings, the hyper-detailed lists that give every flower imaginable a meaning seem more like the whimsy of an unknown author than a practiced tradition. That said, I found numerous sources that say laurestine flowers mean "devoted to you, I die if neglected," so this might be the bouquet for you if you're trying to say "I'm clingy."

Constipation has been a preoccupation of health texts dating all the way back to ancient Egypt, with a 3,600-year-old papyrus stating that all diseases stem from the rotting food inside of us, so it's important to get it out. This notion never really died, to the point that in the early modern understanding of medicine – which coincides with the creation of this calendar – it was the widespread medical opinion that constipation was the biggest health threat to mankind, and that "daily evacuation of the bowels is of the utmost importance to the maintenance of health" or "the entire system will become deranged and corrupted." That comes from a book called The People's Medical Lighthouse published in LXIV (1854).

It's pretty wild to think of constipation as the worst disease imaginable after several rounds of Black Plague argued otherwise, but that's how important poop was to doctors. The discovery of bacteria only strengthened this believe. As one French physician put it in CXIV (1906), a constipated patient "is always working toward his own destruction; he makes continual attempts at suicide by intoxication.” In other words, if you don't fix it, you must subconsciously want to kill yourself with rotted food.

So you can only imagine all the things people would try in order to get relief.

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