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Eternal Refuge
Because Everyone Needs Dreams.
Life In The 1500's 
11th-Aug-2008 10:35 am
Adventure before dementia
 I have just been sent this and thought I would share it with you.

It is both a history lesson as well as an explanation as to where some of the common English phrases came from.

So, if you want to know why you "hold a wake" or why it "rains cats and dogs"; or t
he 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 the1500s:

These are interesting...

   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 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 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 floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added 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 hold...

 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 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 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 the upper crust.

    Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers 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 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 for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell.   Or was considered a ...dead ringer..

   And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring! ! !

11th-Aug-2008 09:57 am (UTC)
I just heard lately that in the 1900s Welsh speaking children were forbidden to speak their own language and other children as well as family members were encouraged to tattle on them - thus the expression to "welsh on someone" came into being.
11th-Aug-2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the extra about Welshing on someone ... makes sence ... and I can say that as for 5 years I lived in North Wales and had to speak some welsh at school. It really did go phases as to if the language was in or not.
11th-Aug-2008 11:20 am (UTC)
Interesting facts!
the last one I knew already, and there are different methods recorded. For example they had a trompet kind of thing with a long mouth piece that reaches from the coffin to the ground, so the not dead people can call for help...it´s quite interestiing how phrases and myths have had total different meanings back then...

Thanks for this!
*hugs you*
11th-Aug-2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
It is great reading where the phrases come from. I didn't actually know any of these!
11th-Aug-2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
Those are very interesting. Thanks.

Especially the one about the "saved by the bell". Very scary.
11th-Aug-2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, not one I knew - but great to learn where we get our phrases from.
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11th-Aug-2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that, at this rate, by the end of the day I will have as much again to add!

There are some great phrases we use and it is lovely to see how they originate.
11th-Aug-2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Good ones :)
I post things like that because I find it interesting = "Sachgeschichten" but I only get them in German from a mailing list.
11th-Aug-2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed - it is interesting learning these things.
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12th-Aug-2008 06:38 am (UTC)
They are really interesting, aren't they?
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