The origin of phrases
Here are some interesting facts about the 1500's. . . .
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in may, and still smelt pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. 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 sons and men, then the women, and finally the children - babies last. By then the water was so dirty you could 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 and bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it got slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "its 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 wet and slippery in the winter, So they spread thresh straw on the floor to keep their footing. As the winter drew on they added more and more thresh until when you opened the door it would be s****ing out, so they placed a piece of wood in the entrance way to keep it all in. - Hence the saying "Thresh-hold"
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that hung over the fire. Everyday they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold 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 9 days old."
Sometimes they could get hold of 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 of a little to share it with guests and sit around and "chew the fat."
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach out onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, these 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 to see if they woke 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. They started digging up bones and taking them to the "bone house" so that they could reuse the grave. When re-opening these coffins, 1 out of 25 Coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive. After this 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 in the graveyard all night ("the graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus someone could be "saved by the bell" or considered a "dead ringer".
"It is significant that whenever the public mind is to be diverted from great social wrong, a crusade is inaugurated against indecency." - Emma Goldman
Not accepting any gifts.