Sunday, April 01, 2012

Trivia and Sayings from the Middle Ages

  • probably one of those who did not have a dirt floor.

  •        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 cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall from 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 existence.

  •        The phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" was also the result of the stray animal population.  When it rained and the streets would flood, the water would recede leaving behind drowned corpses of all the strays.

  •        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 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 word: 'thresh hold.'

  •       In the old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over thefire.  Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.  They ate mostly vegetables and didnot 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".

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