The 1500s


Historical Facts

About the 1500s

The next time you are complaining about something
take a moment to realize just how much easier life is now
compared to how it used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500's:

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 again 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, 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 and cats and other small creatures (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.
When it rained the straw 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 keep things from falling into the house.
This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings
could really mess up your nice clean bed.
So 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 they opened the door the straw would start slipping outside.
A piece of wood was placed across the entranceway.
Hence the term "Thresh Hold".

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle
which was 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 that stew for dinner leaving leftovers
in the pot to get cold overnight and start over again the next day.
Sometimes the stew had food in it which 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 if a man could "bring home the bacon."
Then they would cut off a little to share with
the guests and all would 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 leech into the food
causing lead poisoning and even 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 "upper crust".

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.
The combination would sometimes knock fellows 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 wake".

England was old and small and the local folks
started running out of places to bury people.
So they would dig up coffins and 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 and they realized
they had been burying people alive.
So they thought they would tie a string to 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
be considered a "dead ringer".

And that's the truth!   Whoever said that history was boring??


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