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Old 08-18-03, 10:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
Darlene's Avatar
Join Date: Mar-2003
Location: Nova Scotia
Age: 45
Posts: 504
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An interesting bit of history......

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because
the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how
things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June.
However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet
of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of
carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of
the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the
other sons and men, then the women and finally the children -
last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could
actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the
baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no
wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm,
so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the
animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's
raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.
This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other
droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed
with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some
protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
than dirt. Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate
floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they
spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As
the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you
opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of
wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a "thresh
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle
that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and
added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not
get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving
leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the
next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there
for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas
porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel
quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their
bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could
bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with
guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high
acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food,
causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often
with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
considered poisonous. Bread was divided according to status.
Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the
middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination
would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone
walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare
them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a
couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and
drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom
of holding a "wake."
England is old and small and the local folks started running
out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and
would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave.
When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to
have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had
been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a
string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up
through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to
sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen
forthe bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or
was considered a "dead ringer."

And that's the truth...

Last edited by Darlene; 08-18-03 at 10:11 AM..
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