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The Origins of Some Famous Sayings

This is a good example of a hoax, and how you can't take anything you read about food history without checking the refrences.

This nice little essay on the origins of some famous sayings has been passed around by email a great deal since 1999.

This can sound really convincing at first , but after reading this GO here

and find explanations on some of the real origins of these sayings.


Next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water
tempisn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be....
Here are some facts from 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 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 pet
dogs, cats and their 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 posed a
real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings 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

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
entryway, hence a -"threshold."

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 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

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 lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy
trenchers, one would get

read 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

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
coffin 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
round 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."