Misuse Of A Word
30th Aug 2011
I was on holiday in France a couple of weeks ago and was a little surprised to see a sign up outside a fast food joint (part of a national chain) advertising a 'Festival Of Bruschetta"! I'm struggling to see how even the most broad minded of marketing consultant can think that adding a couple of new toast based items to a menu can classify as a festival. Here are a few definitions of the word from a free online dictionary:
1. a day or period set aside for celebration or feasting, esp one of religious significance
2. any occasion for celebration, esp one which commemorates an anniversary or other significant event
3. an organized series of special events and performances, usually in one place a festival of drama
4. Archaic a time of revelry; merrymaking
5. (modifier) relating to or characteristic of a festival
Nope, some tasty toasted snacks don't really fit any of the above.
I noticed it because I had often wondered exactly what makes a festival. I've just returned from my first music festival, Solfest (north of the Lake District), which fitted my expectations exactly. There was entertainment, food and drink, and plenty of people in a jolly mood. I suppose you could argue that some restaurants manage a similar atmosphere on a smaller scale, but a fast food joint in a backwater industrial estate?
Weatherspoon pubs are another abuser of the word, regularly widening their range of a particular drink type, cider for example, and proudly advertising the world's biggest cider festival. Not exactly comparable with the Munich Beer Festival me thinks!
But the worst contender of all is the 'Adventure Festival'. This is a series of screenings of adventure films in cinemas throughout the country which calls itself a festival. Not exactly ShAFF or Kendal Mountain Festival!