Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fact Or Fiction?

I ran across this little tidbit from my friend pennybuckets over on tagfoot, who received it in an email. With permission, I am sharing this with you.... true or not it is an enjoyable read! Thank you pennybuckets.

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 1500's:

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 the 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 entrance way. Hence the saying a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

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 the 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 whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking alon g 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 ! ! !

Halvor Moorshead over at History magazine has a different take on the situation of the 1500's. Not being a historian, I just found it enjoyable... you make the decision. Fact or Fiction?


  1. what fun. I would suggest there's some fact at the base of those. But for sure i enjoyed reading it.

  2. I can't imagine being buried alive. How horrible!

    Gives me the shivers1

    I'm sorry for not visiting lately.. I've been a rotten blogger. Truly!

    Blessings to you,

  3. LOL this was fascinating! Hey I at least knew the threshold one, yay! What a great article, as always, Christina :)

  4. PS...when reading the Little House books, I quickly gained an appreciation for indoor plumbing and a solid roof...have always gone brrr at the idea of the sod house...just can't imagine what crawlies were there in the bed linens on any given day/night, ick!

  5. I was going to say what a cool bathtub from the picture, then I read the tidbit! I never knew where that phrase came from!

  6. I knew some of these, but many I did not know the origins of... what a great post!

  7. that's really interesting. i hadn't heard any of that.

  8. Those are great, and now I want to read more!

  9. Centuries ago there was a Asian Indian tradition of wife burning herself alive with his husband when he dies. Can not imagine such a horrible thing now.

  10. I think it is a mixture if true and fallacy.

  11. Oh wow! such interesting tidbits!

  12. Even if they weren't all factual, they were fun to read. It was especially good the way they came up with the sayings we use today.

  13. I don't believe the 'raining cats and dogs' one. It would make more sence in that scenario if it was 'raining cats and mice'.

  14. Oh did I not see this post come thru my fllowing thingy?? This is a wonderful post!I L-O-V-E it! (not too fond of the last bit of info..."dead ringer") eek!
    ~Hugs my dear friend~

  15. I would of have to of been a King cause there is no way I would be living like that ;)
    I used to think about alot of those kinds of things a while back.To be honest we are so spoiled now that a bug bite is a crisis.
    Whats cool is to try to see things 50 yrs from now :)
    Cool post thanks
    and yes it's true I mentioned you in my post last night ;)

  16. Wow. How fun to learn the meaning to every day phrases. Great post.


Grab a cup of coffee and let me know your views, thoughts, or ideas.... Glad to see you here. Have a great day!