I dig history.
It was my minor in college. Why? Because history intrigues me and because it required no math. I am math phobic and that means I have Social Mathematics Anxiety. Translated from Lauridian, that means I don’t add or subtract in public.
Oh no no no no no no no no!!
I can’t even play Black Jack in Vegas unless I’m drunk because I have to resort to this strange alcohol-induced form of Chisenbop just to play. I don’t like adding. I don’t like counting.
No sir, I don’t like math at all, but history is aces with me. I mean, how do we know where we’re going unless we have a real sense of where we’ve been? Plus knowledge is power; well, for me it is. I like learning mainly because I don’t like not knowing. I want to be able to contribute a little bit of something to every conversation.
While I’d be completely S-O-L trying to talk to a physicist, after happening upon these rich tidbits you see to your far right, I might be able to have a relatively coherent conversation with a historian–especially if he or she is interested in the etymology of certain words and phrases and even certain customs that are still in our lexicons and still practiced today.
Read this post and buy the booky by the Flavell’s….Linda and Roger. And no I don’t get a cut of you, but IF you do, you’ll be armed with more useless knowledge than you can shake a shtick at.
WHY DO BRIDES CARRY BOUQUETS?
Body Odor. Yep, it’s due to “the stank”.
Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and some still smelled less repugnant by June, but many didn’t. And be it the guests of the groom or the pastor, if the stench of overwhelming, the bride carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the vile, nasty, acrid B.O. Plenties.
HEY, WATCH OUT FOR BABY!!
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.”
IT’S RAINING MEN? NOT SO LUCKY, LK…BUT CATS & DOGS? YES!!!
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 (bugs, mice and other nut gathering forms of rodentia) lived on the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip off. Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
How a dog got up on the roof though, beats the hell out of me!
WHAT’S THE ORIGIN OF THE CANOPY BED?
Because there was no air conditioning, during the warmer months, windows were kept open constantly. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house–pesky things like bugs, bark, leaves and even birds and their disgusting seed filled droppings. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where this stuff could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection and that’s how canopy beds came into existence.
HE GREW UP IN A FAMILY THAT WAS “DIRT POOR”
Simply stated, most floors in most homes 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.”
A NURSERY RHYME BASED IN FACT AND OTHER STUFF ABOUT HEARTH AND HOME
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 didn’t get much meat. They’d 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.”
And furthermore, sometimes a family would get their mitts on a little pork, which made them feel quite special. Pork wasn’t easy to come by. ‘Twas a commodity and expensive. So, when visitors came over, the homeowner would hang up their bacon to show off.
“Look at me! I own pork!!”
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”, the precursors to pork rinds.
TOMATOES: ONCE DEEMED TO BE SATAN’S LYCOPENE RICH FRUIT
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 acidy tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
This one, was news to me. I’d never heard of the tomato/poison connection before doing the research on this post.
SOCIAL CLASSES DIVIDED AND DECIDED BY….BREAD???
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.”
DEATH BE NOT PROUD…WELL, MAYBE A LITTLE (HICCUP!!)
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.”
THIS REALM; THIS ENGLAND
England is old and small. Land is a commodity. That’s folks started running out of places to bury people. So they’d dig up coffins and would take the bones to a “bone-house” and reuse the grave.
Now, here’s a wonderfully morbidly chilling fact for OCD wing nuts (like me) to obsess over.
CREEP OUT ALERT!!!… CREEP OUT ALERT!!!… CREEP OUT ALERT!!!
When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 were found to have scratch marks on the inside of the lid. This, of course, made family and friends realize that….(cue orchestra–TA DA DUMMMMMM!!!!)…..they’d been burying people alive. This is a claustrophobic’s nightmare and I need a Xanax just thinking about it.
Anyway, to remedy this problem, the gravedigger/mortician guy in the village would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and ultimately, he’d tie it to a bell. If someone inside the coffin came to and moved, so would the string and providing there was enough tension, that force the bell to ring. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the “graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell. If it rang, they’d dig up the coffin, open it and let the corpse get a little fresh air. And that’s how the expression “saved by the bell” was born.
As for “dead ringer” and how that represents looking like someone else? I’ve nary a clue.
Well, there you go.
Consider yourself schooled.