From time to time I think about what life must have been like ‘way back when’. This is something I ran across about living in the 1500’s. Life was certainly simpler but oh so hard… There are some phrases here that we have seen before, but this is an interesting read, to be sure.
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 the1500s:
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. The babies were last of all.. 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, like mice and bug, 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 could mess up your nice clean bed. A bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came to be.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Thus, 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 until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the
entrance way. And, now you know how the term ‘Thresh hold’ came into being.
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. Thus the rhyme, ‘Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old’..
Sometimes, families could obtain pork, which was pretty special. 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 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 to see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a
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. They realized they had been burying people alive, so they started tying a string on the wrist of the corpse. They led it through the coffin and up through the ground and tied it to a bell. Someone sat out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell. People were actually ‘Saved by the bell’. He was
known as a ‘Dead ringer.’.
And who said history has to be boring? God bless you.