31 January 2006

history lesson

our friend cindy sent us this email tonight - dont know if its true or not but interesting nonetheless:

The next time you are washing your hands and
complain because the water temperature isn't just
how you like it, think about how things were in the

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 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 "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?!!