Now would you believe it?

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.

Folklore would have us believe that in the 1500’s:

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, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour, 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 were 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 the saying a thresh hold

Now what do you think?

4 thoughts on “Now would you believe it?

  1. Here’s what I think Grannymar. I’m 39 years old, young enough by today’s standards I guess. From age 1 – 5 I lived in an old house near the village of Moynalty. We were 3 miles from the nearest shop, had no central heating and no running water.

    I remember collecting water from the nearby well which was inhabited by insects and frogs (appently a sign of a healthy well). I also remember the bathtub being placed in front of the fire on a Friday evening and we all took turns (unfortunately I was the youngest, so was the last to bathe).

    At harvest time one of the local farmers would cut his hay and leave it to dry. A couple of weeks later the whole community would amass in his field and cock the hay. Half ways through the day the farmers wife and daughters would arrive with tea, sandwiches and cake for all to devour.

    As Grandad would say, I’m a computery person. But I would gladly give up all technology (except central heating) to get back to those days.

    Life was simple and people had less but there was a sense of community that we just don’t have anymore.

    So much for the 1500s, this was the early 70s.

  2. Grannymar,

    When my husband’s Mother and Father got married in 1911 they had a tiny house near the railroad tracks. No electricity and no running water.

    By 1916 they had three children and the need for water was more important than it used to be to them. So, Mom used to walk along the tracks picking up coal that spilled from the locomotives to help heat the house, and when she got to the water tower where they put water in the boiler of the trains to make steam, she would hold her bucket up and try to catch as much water as she could. Then she would have to walk along the tracks to get home and half of the water would spill out of her bucket.

    So, this is how they started out and lived for a long time.

    And, just think, she lived to see a man walk on the Moon……

  3. And today by comparison, most people have well-insulated, centrally heated houses with carpets, and an abundant water supply… and yet we wonder why we have allergies like eczema and asthma!

    I’m just thankful that fresh air is still in abundance in Ireland. A bit more sunshine would be nice though 8)

  4. I read once that people were often buried alive, before the discovery of rescusitation. This became a bit of a problem, so they started tying string around the wrists of the bodies which was connected to a bell above ground. Apparently that’s how the saying ‘saved by the bell’ came about. Bizarre.
    Ahh the good old days…

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