Tuesday, June 12, 2007


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 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

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 the floor to help keep their footing. As the
winter wore on! , they a dded more thresh until when you opened the door
it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the
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 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 it 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 "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 that
History was boring ! ! !


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