Where do popular sayings come from? You've heard expressions such as "it's raining cats and dogs" and they were "Dirt poor." These common phrases arises out of our every day experiences. The problem is that life has changed so we don't always recognize them for what they are. Here is a little history lesson that will explain where some of the common phrases you and I know come from.
The 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
Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May, and 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
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
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 death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
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.
The Bible may seem antiquated and hard to understand. That's because it was written in another time. Long before automobiles and computers, the talk of horses and mention of a day's walk may not connect to a younger generation.
That's why it is always good to share a little context when teaching the Bible to people. Help them understand what was going on at the time of the passage you are reading about. Put it in context and then use examples of what is happening today to help your friends relate to the what God is trying to say.
You see the Bible is filled with eternal truths that is captured and clothed in language and terminology of a given time. Our job is to share the truth and help others understand what it means for them in the year 2010 so they can know God.
So go ahead and chew the fat. They may think you are upper crusted and a dead ringer for the Lord when you are done. That's okay because you got your point across.