Packs of cards date back to 9th century China. They had spread all over Europe by the 14th century. The French created the four suits that we are familiar with and use today. Can you picture the faces on the pack of cards that you probably have in your home? Without looking below, can you remember which king doesn’t have a mustache? And which king seems to be killing himself? And can you visualize which king doesn’t have a sword, but instead an ax? Did you know that all the kings and queens are supposed to represent past royals, some real and some legendary?
The king of hearts represents King Charles the Great, aka Charlemagne, the emperor who ruled most of Western Europe from 768 to 814. During the Middle Ages, he united much of Europe and is often referred to as “the father of Europe.”
The king of spades represents King David, who, according to the Hebrew bible, was the first king of the Israelite tribes, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He lived about 1000 years before Christ. King David was a great warrior, but also a great poet and musician. He is said to have composed many of the psalms in the Book of Psalms. Everybody wanted a part of him; the Jewish prophets thought he was an ancestor of the future messiah and the Christian New Testament says he was an ancestor of Jesus.
The third king, the King of Clubs, represents Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia and considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all time. He lived and died more than 300 years before Christ, and was tutored by Aristotle as a youth. He became king when he was only 20, and had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by age 30. He is called “the Great” because he was undefeated in battles and even today, his tactics are still used as a benchmark for military leaders, and military academies world-wide still teach his them.
And the last king in the line-up, the King of Diamonds, represents none other than Julius Caesar, the politician and general who made himself a dictator after he expanded the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar was also Cleopatra’s lover. He was assassinated by a group of senators just a little over 40 years before Christ was born.
The queens in your pack of cards are also important. The queen of hearts represents Queen Judith, a Jewish biblical heroine with her own book. She was a daring widow who decapitated an enemy general, and then carried his head back to her people, and saved Israel. Just so you know, although she was beautiful and courted by many, she never married again.
The queen of clubs is Argine, which is an anagram for “Regina” and means queen. Regina is used as a feminine name in just about every major language, but in particular Latin and Italian. It is usually a Christian name, in honor of a 2nd century saint. Saint Regina was born in France in the third century to a pagan family, and her mother died giving birth. He father rejected her, but a Christian lady took her in and baptized her. When a young woman, Regina helped out by caring for sheep. She became very religious and made a vow of virginity in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the local mayor noticed her and wanted her as his wife, even though he thought her annoyingly holy. When she refused to deny her faith or her vow of virginity, he had her beaten, then burned with iron tools, and finally beheaded, and that’s how she became a saint.
The queen of spades represents Pallas, which is another name for the Greek goddess of reason, Athena. Athena was the daughter of Zeus, and never had a mother. She sprang from her father’s forehead, already an adult and dressed in armor. She was his favorite child, and allowed to use all his weapons, including the thunderbolt. She became not only the goddess of reason, but also of intelligent activity, arts and literature.
The queen of diamonds represents Rachel, the first woman in the Bible to have a proper name. Actually, she represents the tragedy of womanhood, as both her father and her older sister betrayed her, then she had difficulty getting pregnant, but she finally gave birth twice, to Joseph and Benjamin. She died during Benjamin’s birth, but her sons became two of the twelve tribes of Israel.
FYI is an acronym, and an acronym is a word formed by combining the first letters of each word of a name, such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) that is frequently seen in the news. Another one you probably know is AIDS, which is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Sometimes acronyms are pronounced as a word as in NATO and AIDS, and sometimes the letters are pronounced individually, such as FYI (for your information). And most of the time they are not even pronounced, as they are used mostly in social media, business communication and Internet. But we do hear CNN (Cable News Network) reporters saying ASAP frequently, which means As Soon As Possible and is hard to pronounce.
Sometimes acronyms become words, such as the word scuba. Everybody knows that word, but few know it started out as an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Another acronym that became a word is laser, which began as the acronym Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Most of us are very pleased that these two words became acronyms.
For now, try to incorporate FYI and ASAP into your daily communications, and don’t spend too much time remembering what AIDS and LASER and SCUBA really mean. But you should be able to recognize NATO as it has become a big issue in North America and Europe.
Here are six business acronyms that you should know if you are a businessperson, and maybe aspire to if you are in middle management. Which one would be the lowest stress and the highest salary?