Did you Know ???
The next time you are washing your hands & complain
because the water temperature isn't just how you like
it...think about how things used to be.
Here are some facts about the 1500's & up.
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 bouguet 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 the 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" Its 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 existance.
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 added more thresh (straw) until when you
opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in
the entranceway. Hence.. the saying" thresh hold."
In the old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over
the fire. Everyday 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
Sometimes they would 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 sit all 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 until 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 quests got the top or " upper crust."
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes
knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road
would take them for the 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 re-use the grave. When re-opening these coffins, 0ne out of
twenty-five 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, hence " the
graveyard shift," to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be " saved by the
bell" or considered a "dead-ringer."
When guests would over stay their welcome, as house guests, the host would
instead of feeding good warm meals, give their too-long staying quests the worst
part of the animal, hence not warmed... but the " cold shoulder."
In Babylonia, this was an accepted practice 4000 years ago. That for a month
after the wedding, the bride's father would supply the son in-law all the mead he
could drink. Mead is a honey-beer and because their calender was lunar-based.
This period was called the "honey-month, "or what we know today was the
The priest performing a wedding would bind the bride and the grooms hands
together with rope during the ceremony. In modern day, if you see the priest place
a sash around their hands instead of rope and this is where the old saying comes
from hence, " tie the knot."
This came from the days when smallpox was a regular disfigurement. Fine ladies
would fill in the pocks of the face with beeswax. However, when the weather was
very warm the wax might melt. But it was not a thing to do for one lady to tell
another that her makeup needed attention.
Hence the sharp rebuke as to "mind your own beeswax".
The Noble ladies and gentlemen of the late 1700's wore much makeup to impress
each other. Since they rarely bathed, the make-up would get thicker and thicker.
If they stay too close to the heat of the fireplace, the make-up would start to melt.
If that happened the servant would move the screen in front of the fireplace to
block the heat so they hence, " wouldn't lose face."
Medieval physicians believed that the secretions of a frog could cure a cough if it were
coated on the throat of the patient. The frog was placed in the mouth of the sufferer and
remained there until the physician decided that the treatment was completed, hence..
"I have a frog in my throat."
Candles were expensive to make, so often reeds were dipped in tallow and burned
instead. When visitors came, it was a custom for guests to make their exit by the
time the lights went out. Therefore, if your host didn't want you to stay very long,
he would give you, hense" the short end of the stick."
In medieval England, there were Nomadic mercenaries who wandered the country
side and sell their services to the highest bidder. These were hardened fighters who
lived solitary lives in the wilderness. They did not have the luxury of servants to
polish their armer and they would oxidize to a blackish hue. They came to be
known as the Black Knights. At local town festivals they would have an exibition
jousting matches in which the winner of the fight would win the loser's weapons
and armor. The local gentry, softened by the good life, would lose to these Black
Knights. The Black Knights did not have much use for an extra set of armor and
would sell back to them immediately after the fight. The losing nobility would be
forced to buy back their armor and this after market came to be known as the
" Black Market."
Nails were once hand-tooled and costly. When someone tore down an aging cabin
or barn, he would salvage the nails so he can re-use them in later construction.
When building a door, however, carpenters often drove the nail through then bent
it over on the other end so it could'nt work its way out. When it came time to
salvage, these bent door nails were considered useless or dead, hence..." dead as a
We've all heard the phrase that something was done "half-assed," but few people
stop to wonder what such a ridiculous expression could it possibly mean. The
term " half-assed" evolved from "half-adz." An Adz is an axelike tool with a
curved blade used for shaping wood. If you were wealthy and paid top-dollar for
a new fireplace, the mantle would be shaped using an Adz in the front as well as
the back side, which isn't invisible. However, if you weren't wealthy and wanted to
save money, you could have only the front visible portion of the mantle shaped.
This cheaper job is known as a " half adz." or "half assed."
MORE EXPRESSIONAL SAYINGS
Did you Know ???