Life in the 1500s.

In our present age it is hard to imagine tolerating a single flea.
But not so long ago people practically lived in barns! Here are some facts
about the 1500s.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May
and were still smelling pretty good by June. However, they were starting to
smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

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 pets-dogs, cats and
other small animals: mice, rats, 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 could
really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet
hung over the top afforded some protection. That is 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 on the floor to help keep
their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when
you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was
placed in the entry way,hence a "thresh hold."

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 mostly ate 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 the stew had food in it that had been in
there for a 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 and 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 a high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and
death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or
so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood,
with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a
lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, one
would get "trench mouth."

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 whiskey. The combination would sometimes
knock them 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."

England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury
people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house
and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one 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 on their
wrist and 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."