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 facts about the 1500s:
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 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 dogs, 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 really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts with a sheet hanging over the top to afford 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 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 entranceway - 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 the 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 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 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 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 thought 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... (and whoever said that history was boring?)
There is a cure for everything if you know where to look and our ancestors looked everywhere, experimented and passed on their discoveries with conviction.
Coltsfoot leaves boiled in water sweetened with honey and drunk three times a day was a well tried remedy for the common cold.
Inhaling the steam from a jug of boiling water containing rosemary leaves was another remedy for the common cold. Strong-scented "rosemary" was placed under pillows to keep the sleeper from having nightmares. It was also recommended that studious youngsters sniff rosemary so they could better remember their lessons. Rosemary grows best beside a home where a matriarch lives. The connection is so strong that if the woman should leave the home, the rosemary bush would die.
A tablespoon of ground ginger mixed with honey taken three times a day does wonders for a chronic cough.
Australians suffering from aches and pains, were advised to boil finely cut-up gum leaves in fat or water for a few minutes then pour it into a clean handkercheif or wollen sock; put this into the place where the pain is and in a minute or two it will give relief.
A gargle could be made from an infusion of hot water and hawthorn flowers or berries but a more popular version was red peppers soaked in cider.
Australians believe boiled onions cures worms in children; onions boiled or roasted cures a cold; raw onions purify the blood; onion poultice applied to the throat and chestand to the soles of the feet, will cure croup; onions cooked or raw should be eaten by persons suffering from rheumatism.
Cowslip flower tea, drunk at bedtime and hop pillows are still recommended to cure insomania.
The juice of boiled nettles is excellent for blood and the soft nettle pulp made an effective poultice for sciatia.
Black Elderberry is used in dropsy. Blossoms beaten up with lard make good ointment in burns and scalds. Blossoms together with peppermint leaves, sweetened with honey excellent tea for colds. The berries yield delicious wine and jam. The bark and roots produce a black dye, the leaves a green dye and the berries a purple coloring. Elderflower water was used to clear freckles.
Plantain seed, washed, crushed and bandaged over an open wound for 24 hours produced a miraculous cure.
A tea brewed from the dried flowering plant Centaury, serves as an appetite stimulant, aids digestion, eases heartburn and relieves gas pains. Very bitter, used as an ingredient of vermouth.
In the west of England farmers claim that spring has not truly 'sprung' unless they can step on 12 daisies with one foot.
Clover was one of the anti-witch plants which protected human beings and animals from the spell of magicians and the wiles of fairies, and brought good luck to those who kept it in the house. It could be used in love-divinations; and to dream of it was very furtunate indeed, since such a dream foretold a happy and prosperous marriage. Wearing a four leaf clover in your shoe will bring you a mate. Four-leaved clovers are well known for their luck and magical charm but according to old wives' tale they are not found; they make themselves known to lucky people.
Ivy is a lucky plant. If it grows on a house, it protects those within from witchcraft and evil. In Christmas decorations it is lucky to the women , as holly is to the men, and therefore should never be omitted if all the family are to share alike in the blessings of the season. The wood of the plant was supposed to have the power of separating water from wine when these were mixed together. Its leaves and berries averted the effects of too heavy drinking. The leaves, roots and wood of ivy were used in a number of folk-remedies, some practical and some mainly magical.
A cure for corn is to soak the leaves in vinegar and bind them on the corn. Water in which such leaves had been steeped for a night and a day served as a lotion for sore eyes. Juice of the leaves snuffed up the nostril, stopped a bad cold.
Lettuces, both wild and cultivated, were believed to have magical and healing properties, including the power of arousing love and counteracting the effects of wine. The Romans ate them at their banquets for the latter reason, and in medieval times they were often included in love-potions and charms. They were also said to promote child-bearing if eaten in salads by young women, or taken in the form of decoctions made from the juice or seeds.
Chicory was believed to have the power of making its possessor invisible. It could also open doors or boxes if it was held against the locks. These charms, however, would only work if the plant was gathered at noon or at midnight on St James's Day (July 25th). It had to be cut with gold and in silence; if the gatherer spoke during the operation, he would die, either at once or shortly afterwards.
Chicory perhaps owes its magical reputation to the lovely blue of its flower, which may have caused it to be identified or confused with the Luck-Flower of German folklore. This also was blue and whoever carried it could make rocks open before him, and so gain entry into the subterranean regions beyond.
Garlic is among the most ancient of cultivated plants and has long been used as a food flavoring, as a medicine, and as a germicide, since its juice contains the antibiotic oil allicin. Garlic lowers blood-cholesterol levels - reduces hypertension - stimulates the digestive system. Garlic enhances the body's immune defences...
Eucalyptus is famous for its aroma and the antiseptic, germ-killing properties of the aromatic oil of its leaves and resin. Steam inhalations are a popular treatment for respiratory ailments - bronchitis - asthma.
The Red Poppy is a sedative. It contains a non-poisonous sedative alkaloid called rhoeadine. But, unlike the 'Opium Poppy', it contains no narcotics. The blossoms and seeds are also added to cough syrups. The flowers are used as a dye in teas, wine and ink.
Dandelion clocks are usually blown to tell the time but in some places blown to make a wish come true. A tea from the leaves is used as a tonic to purify blood and to promote bowel regularity. A brew from the roots is a strong diuretic. The blossoms are made into wine and the roots can be ground, roasted and brewed into a coffee-like beverage. The flowers boiled to make a yellow dye, the roots a magenta one.
Kiss and tell is another name for mistletoe which was supposed to be a lucky plant, provided it was not brought in doors before Christmas Day. Every berry denoted a kiss and one had to be picked after each kiss to bring good fortune to the young lovers. Kissing under the mistletoe seems to be a purely English custom of which no trace has been found in other countries. If a girl stands under a mistletoe, she cannot refuse to be kissed by anyone who claims the privilege.
It was the plant of peace in ancient Scandinavia. A bunch outside a house ensured a safe welcome and if enemies happened to meet under a tree that bore it, they had to lay down their arms and fight no more that day
Being a thunder-plant, it's presence in the house protected it from thunder and lightning, cured many diseases, was an antidote to poison and brought good luck and fertility.
Mistletoes is also effective with cattle. If you give a bough of mistletoe to the cow that calved first in the New Year, you prevent bad luck from attacking your entire herd.
Yarrow was once used as everything from a hairloss preventive and toothache reliever to a cold medicine and snakebite cure.