How are you enjoying the modern luxuries of life lately? Are you resting comfortably on your sleep number mattress?
Is your Jacuzzi tub just calling your name this evening?
As the nights get colder, are you still walking along the hardwood floors in your warm and cozy home, wearing shorts and a t-shirt?
We hear the words “appreciate what you have” all the time. But do we really listen? As we text a family member from a thousand miles away for example, are we really giving thanks to the people from our history that created the opportunity to do so?
Or when we get in the car to take a trip to the beach, do we really pay homage to the inventors that made day trips like this feasible?
If you think life is still tough today, take into consideration the challenges our ancestors faced back in the day. For example, in the 1500’s:
- Marriages were most common in the month of June. But not because of the availability of wedding venues, the sunny days, or the mild summer temperatures.Couples would marry in June because they took their yearly bath in May. Thus they were still smelling pretty good by June.
To help mask any lingering odors, the brides would hold a bouquet of flowers throughout the ceremony.
- There was no such thing as wooden or laminate floor tiles in middle-class homes. The floors in every home were made of dirt. Only those with wealth had something different, like slate floors. But that’s where the expression “dirt poor” actually comes from.
- Pork was a rarity in most households. When families scored raw pork, it was considered the prime cut of the 1500’s. When guests were invited over, people would even hang bacon from the walls just to show it off.Seeing pork inside the home was a sign of wealth and that a man could really “bring home the bacon.” Sometimes families would share the raw bacon with their guests, creating the expression we know as “chewing the fat.”
- Cutlery and fine china were anything but clean. Most people used wooden plates called trenchers. These were pieces of wood hollowed out in the middle to form a small bowl.Having no protective finish on it, the trenchers were never washed. Worms would start getting into the wood, and sometimes became part of their meal.
Afterward dinner, people would joke by saying they had “trench mouth.”
- Family bathtubs in the 1500’s were literally one large tub filled with hot water. First in line in to enjoy the clean water was the man of the house, followed by his sons and any other men who lived there. Up next were the women, and last in line were any remaining children or babies.As you might expect, the tub quickly became a cloud of murky, cold water. So dirty in fact that you could lose someone in it.
This is where the phrase: “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” comes from.
- Houses used thatched roofs made of straw. They did not have any wood sheathing underneath, and thus would be open to the outside elements.Initially you might start thinking about the ambient temperatures or rainy days as one of the prominent issues our ancestors faced as a result. But there was more…
Nothing could prevent things from falling into the house from above, including bugs. This was especially concerning in the bedrooms. So people started covering their mattresses with large awnings, using four posts and a bed sheet draped over them.
These awnings represent the origin of the beautiful beds with four poster and canopies we now see in modern bedrooms.
- The scarcity of open land was becoming a problem for burials. When someone would die, there was simply no room to bury them. So groundskeepers would dig up existing coffins, take out the bones, and reuse the grave.However, in reopening these coffins, every once in a while they found scratch marks on the inside. An obvious sign those people had been buried alive.
To prevent this from happening, they started tying strings to the deceased wrists. This string would run through the coffin and up to a bell.
Employees would then sit out in the graveyard all night, listening for the bell. Hence on the “graveyard shift” they would know that someone was a “dead ringer”.
So the next time you see a bride holding her bouqet while walking down the aisle, or enjoy your soup in a freshly washed ceramic bowl, take a moment to pay your respects to the ancestors before us who never got to experience these simple modern-day luxuries we now take for granted.
Which of these was the most shocking for you!?