Interesting Trivia?!

When you’re finished reading, check out the new trivial posts: More Interesting Trivia and Even More Interesting Trivia.

Mum sent me this so it has to be true – right?

Here are some ‘facts’ about the 1500s:

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & 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.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good byJune. 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.

(Getting quite an education, aren’t you?)

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 whiskey. 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!

Of course it is. My mum said so!

Don’t forget to check out the new trivial posts: More Interesting Trivia and Even More Interesting Trivia.

59 thoughts on “Interesting Trivia?!

  1. I found it very amusing and funny. It’s sad with the invention of Google, everyone is a History/Philosophy/Correctionalist Major and forgot how to enjoy some goodness every once in a while…..

  2. Actually a few of these are true. The poisonous tomatoes, graveyard shift, raining cats and dogs and the threshold story are all true. The throwing the baby out with the bath water I think is a bit of a joke but for the most part (more than half) its true. (I am a history major who loves these little stories).

  3. These are called “folk etymologies” — that is to say, incorrect but cute little stories. If you had labeled them as humor, it would have helped since jillions of other uncreative people are fond of copying stuff on the net and posting it on their little blogs of incorrectness. and yes, I do have a sense of humor. Try posting something actually funny.

  4. This would be the 4th or 5th time i’ve seen this article on various sites, way to go being all original and everything 😛

  5. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job.

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  6. hahhaha… incredible! but it sure has nothing to do with your mom forwarding all this to you?

  7. Sadly, that’s not the origin for ‘threshold’. The word ‘thresh’ never meant the stuff you put on the floor.

    • Hi Alex,

      You may be right. The Oxford Dictionary tells us the following about the word ‘threshold’

      Origin: Old English therscold, threscold; related to German dialect Drischaufel; the first element is related to thresh (in a Germanic sense ‘tread’), but the origin of the second element is unknown.

      However, the act of threshing is to separate grain from chaff. It is believed that the dried chaff, possibly referred to as ‘threshings’ in older times, was placed at the entrance to collect dirt, mud etc from shoes and feet before it was trampled through the house. A bit like a welcome mat I guess. Ergo, the threshold was probably the sill under the door that held the threshings.

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoyed my blog.

      Kindest regards


  8. I’ve heard that the reason for the term “raining cats and dogs” came from the middle ages when there were lots of said animals wondering around and consequently lots of dead ones, so that when it rained it looked like all these dead cats and dogs had come with the rain (something along those lines)

  9. Couple of the facts are slightly off, but not enough to matter for Folklore (dusts his amateur folklore badge like its important) but still an awesome read. 🙂

  10. Not really sure how “England is running out of room” given that in the 21st century there is still a reasonable amount of countryside. Accurately speaking the string with a bell obsession refers to the more upper class, as does windows in coffins and air tubes.

    Most of the stuff in the list is either not true, or only partially true. Unfortunately humans have a habit of forgetting where they saw so called “facts” which goes a long way to explain how urban myths come about.

      • Further to this, look up ‘Premature Burials’ on the web. According to Wikipedia the thirteenth century philosopher John Duns Scotus was accidentally buried alive. Upon reopening his tomb they found his hands were torn and bloody from trying to escape.

        This fear lead to the invention of mechanisms such as the ‘Safety Coffin’ which allowed the occupant to signal the surface if they came ‘back to life’.

  11. The best part about this is the formatting–one story leading directly into the next. Bravo on that! The weakest parts are the lack of dating, location, and the specificity of who “they” are. Thanks, #3 John, for the helpful additional information provided in that link!

  12. Had quite a few views and some comments over the weekend regarding this article. Mycroft and John provided a couple of links for those of you interested in reading more – thanks guys.

    I also received a few unsavoury remarks from people who obviously lack a sense of humour. Seriously guys, get a life.

    For the record, this is an email that has been doing to rounds of the internet for years. All I did was spruce it up and share it for a laugh. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

  13. Funny article, most of these can be either confirmed or looked up as urban legends on the “online etymology dictionary” here, along with real explanations ( Just for those actually interested.

    • Hi, I just saw that tomato was brought in europe by the Spanish during the 1500’s, but I would like to check that fact to 😉

      • Tomatoes (and potatoes) are indigenous to the Western Hemisphere and were not introduced to Europe until the 16th century. Lead had nothing to do with their bad press as lead poisoning is a slow process. They are members of the nightshade family (like tobacco and hemlock) and that is why they were believed to be toxic – in fact the leaves are.

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