Old Sayings


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They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”.

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t afford to buy a pot… they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low. 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 used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s;

Most people got married in June, because they would take their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good in June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carrying a bouquet of flowers to hide their 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 roof’s, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. This 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 couldn’t mess up your nice clean bed. Hence a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That 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 thrash (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winner wore on, they added more thrash until, when you open 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 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 it off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, ”Bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little too share with guest 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 happen most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guest got the top, or the 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 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 their bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins we’re found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realize they have 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 tied 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 what is considered a dead ringer.

So you think you have it bad? You should have lived in the 1500s

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