Sunday, August 23, 2015

Some common phrases, sayings, with their meanings and origins explained

Sunday, August 23, 2015

oldbearnews editor I used to discuss these prior to the internet with history teachers - now you can find this stuff on the internet! wohooo

Ever wondered why we say some things - like being piss poor? Wonder no more:

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it 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 are washing 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 other facts about the 1500s:

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.

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 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 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 (straw) on 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.

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?

Some more --

When getting married the groom and bride would physically be tied by their hands with a rope for the full day - thus signalling to everyone they are lawfully bound together as husband and wife - whence the "tying the knot".   In later years this practice became burden-some  so the priest would lay the stole of his robe on the (holding) hands of groom and bride at the ceremony to symbolize the 'tying the knot'  and we often talk about that "band of gold" (wedding ring) that ties us.  When a prospective groom went to ask the future father-in-law for the "hand-in-marriage" for his daughter, he was in fact asking for permission to "tie the knot.

In parts of Africa the wedding ceremonies to different customs altoghter.
In some villages the females, when becoming of marrying age, would make a special broom of certain branches and then lean said broom against the door frame of her hut.  Any male brave enough to "jump the broomstick" was then deemed forever living in the hut and tied to the female.  The broom stick then would be used to sweep the floor.  When things turned sour the female would physically break the broomstick and and toss it out into the yard - everyone then knew that this relationship was over.

On Salt
You might think of salt as nothing more than the inexpensive stuff that tastes good sprinkled on French fries and popcorn, but in fact it’s far more than just a seasoning and has a long history as a highly prized substance. Today, there are reportedly more than 14,000 known uses for salt. Not only does the human body need it to function properly, but salt also is utilized for everything from producing chemicals to de-icing roads.

Before the days of artificial refrigeration, the main method for preserving food was to treat it with salt. In this way, salt came to represent power; without it, armies couldn’t travel great distances and explorers couldn’t sail to new lands because their provisions would spoil. Throughout the ages, a variety of cultures also used this mineral in ceremonies and religious rituals. For many centuries, until salt deposits were discovered throughout the world and extraction methods improved, salt was scarce, which made it more valuable. Mozart's Birthplace was Salzburg - a town built on Salt (Salz) extraction nearby and the resulting salt trade

In some ancient societies, roads and cities developed as a result of the salt trade.
The expression to be worth one’s salt, which means you’re competent and deserve what you’re earning, is most often said to have its roots in ancient Rome, where soldiers were sometimes paid in salt or given an allowance to purchase it. The word salary is derived from the Latin “salarium,” which originally referred to a soldier’s allowance to buy salt. 

Getting the sack
This comes from the days when workmen carried their tools in sacks. If your employer gave you the sack it was time to collect your tools and go.

White elephant
White elephants were once considered highly sacred creatures in Thailand—the animal even graced the national flag until 1917—but they were also wielded as a subtle form of punishment. According to legend, if an underling or rival angered a Siamese king, the royal might present the unfortunate man with the gift of a white elephant. While ostensibly a reward, the creatures were tremendously expensive to feed and house, and caring for one often drove the recipient into financial ruin. Whether any specific rulers actually bestowed such a passive-aggressive gift is uncertain, but the term has since come to refer to any burdensome possession—pachyderm or otherwise.

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