HISTORY LESSON


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 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.
That 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 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 kept adding 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 the 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 and 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 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 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
thought 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? Educate
someone..
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