Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pot Lucks and Dead Ringers

On our visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon, we did more than take pictures of 400 year old houses and walk around in the pouring rain.  We also learned the origin of select Shakespearean idioms that don’t even give us pause today. 

So many of the things we say in everyday language, might seem ridiculous but are actually derived from real situations.  More specifically, when we say something like “Wow, it’s raining cats and dogs!” – most of us don’t expect that cats and dogs will be falling out of the sky when we open the door.  However, the derivation of that saying from hundreds of years ago was based on cats and dogs falling out of the sky, or something seemingly the same. 

We thought we’d share those with you.

Saved By The Bell - Back in the good 'ol 1600s, people were prematurely buried.  As graves were reused (I know, crazy stuff happening here), they began to realize people were buried alive by the scratch marks on the underside of the tops of coffins.  To help resolve this "problem" of burying dead people while they were alive, a bell would be placed next to the grave and if the dead (but not really dead) woke up, they could ring the bell and be saved.

Deadringer – Another problem with burying people who aren't dead.  If a person were to see someone in town who they had been to the funeral of the week before, they might say "You look just like ..." and the response would be "Oh, I am [that person].  I was a dead ringer" -  meaning they were buried alive, woke up, rung the bell and were saved by the bell.

Graveyard Shift - The one who kept watch for dead ringers.

Raining cats and dogs -  The roofs back in the 1600s were thatched and sometimes thinly.  Animals would take comfort on the straw, especially in times of inclement weather.  However, if it rained hard enough, the animals would fall through the hatch and it would be raining cats and dogs.

Going through thick and thin - King George I had mistresses, of course, who lived with him and essentially kept his attention and gave him direction on his affairs.  One mistress was overweight and the other was skinny so it was said you would have to go through "Thick and Thin" to get to the king.

Pot luck
Guests would be invited to a house for dinner and would not know what was being served.  They were resigned to having whatever was in the pot - leaving it up to luck.

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