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Naillosotarrain
February 10th, 2002, 03:35 PM
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.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the househad 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 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, 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 a 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.

Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often trenchers were made from stale bread which was so old and hard that they could be used for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms and mold got into the wood and old bread. After eating off wormy, moldy trenchers, one would get "trench mouth."

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 "uppercrust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. 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 re-opening 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... (and whoever said that History was boring?!)

Nina
February 10th, 2002, 03:41 PM
... I might actually have listened.

Points to ponder indeed!!

Yvonne Belisle
February 11th, 2002, 01:44 AM
Try reading well written historical romances most the writters are history majors! I have found things in them I thought no way and looked up and found out they were true! It's amazing where you can find real information. Besides most historicals are essetially history that has been modified for poetic lisence that way they don't have to think so much about what they are writing.

Danustouch
February 11th, 2002, 10:46 PM
Yeah..but you also have to be careful, I've read some Historical novels that claimed they were based on true events, but they didn't put clarifications in the end liner notes..so they basically passed things off as true, that probably weren't. :)

Side note..ever meet someone who has read one too many "Western Romance Novels" (the Indian/whitesettlergirl bodice ripper type?)...ooooooooooooo..man...sometimes, that can be so annoying. They so romanticize the native american male...i know someone like that...drives me absolutely NUTS! I have to keep reminding her..."hello...this is not zebra romance hour. Native american males..are Males. Human Beings. Not exceptional, just...HUMAN. And just because you have red hair, missy, you aren't some reincarnated version of one of those god darned romance novels you've been reading.". LOL..sorry..OT..but..that felt good to say. LOL

Ganga
February 21st, 2002, 04:19 PM
That was interesting! I also wish history had been taught like that at school...

One comment though:

"Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the househad 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." "

Not in Finland - They had sauna baths. The sauna ritual was a spiritual experience that the Christian missionaries could never fully Christianize. Today's Finns must take a sauna bath at Winter and Summer Solstices (Christmas and St.John's day, as they are now known), and many business meetings are held in the sauna. I find it rather fascinating.
Also not in Asia (India) - There are ancient instructions how many times one is supposed to bathe in a day. The brahmins bathed 3 times, etc. Married people bathed twice and renounced monks thrice. It was practical - just consider the climate!

kblackthorne
March 19th, 2002, 05:19 PM
This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

While this may have contributed, tomatoes were considered poisonous because they are in the nightshade family. This means that lots & lots of plants the tomato is closely related to (and more or less resembles) are poisonous. (And the non-fruit parts of the plant are quite poisonous.)

When I was growing up, we had a couple bushes with berries that looked & smelled just like tiny tomatoes that were so poisonous birds wouldn't even eat them.

kblackthorne
March 19th, 2002, 11:29 PM
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

OK, I'll bite: How did the dogs get into the roof?


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."

Not the only circumstance this applied to -- but it certainly puts a new spin on "dead drunk". :)


When re-opening 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.

And thus my favorite Poe story (although he was 300 yrs. later, and in the US).