SENTINEL 1-26-2012
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Ya Don't Say!

Where did those sayings come from

The Firpo Files

(Sentinel, January 26, 2012 - February 1, 2012)


Have you ever wondered where certain sayings come from?

Stinky Brides?: Sometime during the 1500s most people got married in June, a tradition that has lasted down to our day, because they took their yearly bath in May. Compared to how they smelled before, 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.

"Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" Back in the day, baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of first bathing in the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men after him.

After these came 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!"

Piss Poor?: The word is they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. Once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery.

Now, if you had to do this to survive, then you were "piss poor." But, some were worse off than you. The really poor folk couldn't even afford to buy a pot, hence the expression, they "didn't have a pot to piss in."

Saved by the Bell: No, I'm not talking about the once popular sitcom that hat aired between 1989 and 1993. It was some time ago that England was old and small.

During this time, the local folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house, and thereafter reuse the grave.

When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside. To their horror and dismay they realized they had been burying people alive.

To remedy the situation they thought of the idea of tying a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin, up through the ground, and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (hence the expression "graveyard shift"!) to listen for the bell. Thus, someone could be, saved by the bell, or was considered "a dead ringer."

"Raining Cats and Dogs!": Houses used to have thatched roofs made up of thick straw piled high with no wood underneath. Understandably, during the cold of the night, it was the only place for animals to get warm.

Therefore, cats, dogs, and other small animals (mice and bugs too) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, giving birth to the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs!"

Canopy Bed?: Of course, with these same thatched roofs, 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.

To prevent this from happening, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some measure of protection, and that's how canopy beds came into existence.

"Dirt Poor": For most homes the floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying, "Dirt poor."

The wealthy, on the other hand, had slate floors. Though not made of dirt, the rich still had their problems with these slate floors.

For example, these floors would get wet during the winter, rendering them quite slippery. To counter this problem, they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.

However, 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 to prevent this from happening. And what do you think that piece of wood was called? You guessed it: a thresh hold.

"Chewing the Fat": The poor ate vegetables, but could occasionally afford pork, which made them feel quite special. Therefore, 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.

Peace and fat blessings to all. Amen.