Back in the olden days, urine was used to tan animal skins, so families all peed in a pot. Once the container was full, the urine was taken and sold to the tannery... if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor".
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...they "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.
The next time you wash your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good. 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.
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 the roof became slippery and the animals often slipped and fell off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."
Inside, floors were usually dirt unless you were rich, hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The slate floors of the wealthy got slippery in winter, so they used thresh to help keep their footing. As the wet weather wore on, more thresh was added, so when you opened the door, the straw slipped outside. A piece of wood, placed across the entrance-way held the thresh in place. Hence: a thresh hold.
(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)
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”. 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.
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”.
England is old and small and the 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 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 was "considered a dead ringer”.
And that's the truth.
Now, whoever said History was boring!!!
So get out there and educate someone! ~~~