3/25/2008

One Good Adage Deserves Another

Once upon a time you needed on one ginormous book to do some serious research. I prefer to use an even larger tome - the Internet.


The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just like you like it, think about how things used to be. Like in the 1500s:

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 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 sons, then the women, then the children, and finally the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone it it.

Hence the saying, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.


Houses had thatched roofs — thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for the animals to get warm, so all the little dogs and cats and other small animals (mice, spiders, 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 could mess up your nice clean bed. So a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

Hence, the canopy bed.


In the 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. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there quite awhile.

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 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 all sit around and chew the fat.


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. 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 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 take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 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 (the graveyard shift?) to listen for the bell.

Hence, someone could be saved by the bell, or was at least considered a dead ringer.


If you do not believe this is the truth, I wouldn’t look it up on Wikipedia, if I were you. Nah, just take your education where you find it.

Hence: Trust Verbicidal Tendencies


No.133

4 comments:

Bilbo said...

What??? You mean all that stuff in Wikipedia isn't necessarily true??? I think I may have to start over on that dissertation...

Hale McKay said...

I know, Bilbo. Sad isn't it?

When I think of all the research I've done for my posts in the past three years ... How much of it is wrong?

Hale McKay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Serena Joy said...

I think I'm just going to decree that Verbicidal Tendencies must be held as the ultimate authority here. If it's said here, it must be true. End of story. And now I'm going to go and reattach the canopy to my bed.:)