by Deeanne Gist
Last month we discussed the origin of some of our common everyday sayings and customs. I loved learning all the new ones you told us about. Here are a few more.
- In the 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 and 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 "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 to 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."
Can you imagine having that graveyard shift, then going home to the wife?
“So, honey, how was your day?”
“Well, seems old lady Stokes wasn’t dead after all and had to be dug up. No sooner had we started on her, then Woodward started ringing his bell. Was a busy night, love. I’m beat.”
Ha! Anybody have any new ones they’ve learned about? Share them with us!
Here's Deeanne's contest question:
Who is the cover model for Dee's May release, A Bride in the Bargain? (You must click on "Dee's Chat Room" to find out.)
Please use my blog link: http://www.deeannegist.com/blog. From there, go to the Chat Room.Leave your answer here on Bustles, in the comments under this post, and don't forget to leave your email in this format: your_email [at] whatever [dot] com