Sunday, January 25, 2009

Life in the 1500's

True, or not, the information satisfies my curiosity. How about yours? Here are 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 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 n ight (the graveyard shift). to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.. Like I said, don't know if it is true, and who cares? It's fun to see it this way... Until then, that's how I see it, Karen

9 comments:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Love the holding a wake part, I am so there :o)

Paula said...

Some I've read and some not but they are very interesting. As much as I like to walk in country cemetaries I would not like to be the one sitting there at night waiting for the bell to ring. lol Thanks for sharing. I heard one the other day about the rules teachers had to go by in long ago years. That was interesting too.

Janie said...

Cute. I know my Granny talked about a wake. They stayed in the home for about 3 days. Back years ago they had to watch cats because they would eat on a dead person. lol My Granny never really liked cats that much. Hope you have a blessed week. Hugs, Janie

Alice said...

Thanks Karen. Believe it or not, but just the other day I was wondering how the term "chew the fat" came about. Yeah, my mind wonders a lot :). Anyway, I loved all the explanations. Now all this has me wondering why they used to cover mirrors when a corpse was brought home.

Beth said...

If they ain't true, they oughta be! ;)

Lucy said...

Now aren't you the smart girl I thought you were. I know from experience about the bath water only there were enough girls in the house along with mom that we got it first. Heated the water in a boiler, long oval shaped deep pot to heat clothes wash waster. Then ito a round tub. THE GOOD OLD DAYS????

Jan said...

I have heard of some of these but some are new ,Britain isnt that small ,the ones that dont get cremated ,still have room to be decently buried hee hee ..love Jan xx

ADB said...

Very interesting to learn of the background of some sayings in English.

Joyce said...

What a fun entry. I'm like you, weather it's true or not doesn't matter.
Hugs, Joyce