You're standing backstage, readying yourself to walk onto the stage, in front of an audience, and begin your song, your line, your scene, your whatever. Someone brushes past you and whispers, "Break a leg!" Where in the world did such a graphic saying come from?
I have to say, the English language is strange; we have a lot of weird idioms. I am very thankful that English is my first language and very impressed by people who learn English, especially as adults.
Moving on, I read somewhere that "Break a leg" came from the way of bowing done where one leg was placed behind the other and the knees were bent in order to make the bow. Therefore you are bending or breaking the leg. I pictured this at a Shakespearan time period where, if you got to make a bow - in other words, you were not booed off the stage or attacked with rotten fruit or dead animals - this was something to be proud of! (Nowadays I believe...I hope...we are polite enough to clap and let a person bow, even if they did a horrible job.)
Before writing this I researched quickly to see if my information was correct. I discovered there are several different ideas of where the expression came from including origins involving gladiators and even John Wilkes Booth! So apparently we're not 100% sure where our odd saying came from.
So there you go! You learned something today (unless you already knew all of this...in which case, congrats! You re-read something you already knew!) so you can check "Learning Something New" off your Sunday / Monday / whatever day you read this to-do list. :)
Why did this come to my mind in the first place? On Thursday I performed in a shortened version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with a karaoke element thrown in! Two girls and I sang Chapel of Love as Olivia and Sebastian headed off to be married. I really enjoyed hanging out with the cast, eating junk food, sitting outside playing weird games, and wearing a veil! There are two casts and Cast One has yet to perform. The singers and the dancers are the same for both casts, so Monday and Tuesday are dress rehearsals, and on Thursday there are two more performances! I'm excited! I'll try and post pics when I get ahold of some.
So next time you are acting, singing or readying to perform and someone wonders where the expression "break a leg" came from, you can enlighten them... or at least try to! :)