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“They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so
families used to all pee in a pot. Once a day it was taken and sold to the

If you had to do this to survive, you were ‘piss

But worse than that were the really poor folks
who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot. They ‘didn’t have a pot to piss in’ and
were considered the lowest of the low.”


“Most people got married in June because they
took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.

However, since they were starting to smell,
brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today
of carrying a bouquet when getting married.”


“Houses had thatched roofs with thick
straw-piled high and no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to
get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the

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.

Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung
over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into


“Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot

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!’”


“The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had
something other than dirt. Hence the term, ‘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.

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 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.’”


“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 whisky. 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.’”


“In old, small villages, 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, 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

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
was considered a ‘dead ringer.’

Now, whoever said history was boring?”


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