Subject: Fw: Whoever said history was boring!
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
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
with a sheet hangingover the top to afford some
protection. That's how canopy beds came into
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
when you opened the door, it would all start
slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the
entranceway - hence, 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 the stew had food
in it that had been there for quite a while - hence
"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
"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
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 some times 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 to 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
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have
scratch marks on the inside and they realised they
had been burying people alive. So they thought they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead
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... (and whoever said History
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