Friday, July 10, 2009

Where Did that Saying Come From?

Did you ever wonder where some of the very well-known expressions came from? Some of the cutest, most descriptive, most common expressions originated long, long ago. For instance....

"Sleep tight." We've all either been tucked in to bed or tucked our own children in bed with that good night ritual. Where did that expression come from? Well, back in the early days, i.e., 1500s or so, mattresses were very unlike our modern ones -- no coiled innerspring, cotton batting or foam. Mattresses were usually just big bags made of cotton, flax, linen or wool, filled with corn husks or a similar "stuffing" material. The mattress was placed on ropes that were strung across a wooden bed frame and wound on pegs that could be tightened by hand. After a while, the ropes would stretch and sag from the weight of the people occupying the bed, and the ropes would have to be tightened again to make it comfortable for sleeping. Hence the saying, "sleep tight." If one would "sleep tight," he or she would be more comfortable, thus resulting in sweet dreams.

Is it possible that a lady sleeping on a corn husk mattress would have been truly comfortable? Perhaps she was dreaming longingly of a feather bed. This lovely water color, "Feather Dreams," by Sixsisters portrays the feeling.

Perhaps the lady's dreams were of beautiful gems such as Amethyst Dream by Rosegardenfae.

Or lovelies like Madame's Midnight Dream from Eversodear.

There's a second part of the saying, "Sleep tight." It's usually followed by, "Don't let the bed bugs bite!" The innards of that mattress in the 1500s certainly would have been attractive to all kinds of bugs and critters!

This may not have been one of the bed bugs, but Chauncey's ladybug piece is a cute little bug after all!

Back in those early days -- 1500s, earlier or later -- houses had thatched roofs, which were thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath it. It was a good place for the animals to curl up and stay warm, since the warmth from the cooking fire in the house would be trapped in the thatching. Cats and other small animals such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks, small dogs, etc., lived in the roof. When it rained, it became very slippery, and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

Maybe one of them was someone's cat, like the one in this Precious Pets Quiltlet by Artmixter.

The kitties in those days would not have been lucky enough to be adorned by a lovely, hand-made collar like this one from Pam of Bagsandmorebypam.

In those very early days in England, there was very little extra space for burial sites, so sometimes the locals would dig up coffins and reuse the graves. When they reopened some of the coffins, about one out of 25 were found to have scratch marks on the inside. They realized that they had been burying some people alive, when they were really thought to be dead. Someone came up with the idea of tying a string on the wrist of the corpse, leading the string up through the coffin and through the ground and tying it to a bell. Someone would then sit out in the graveyard all night listening for the bell (the "graveyard shift"). If the bell sounded, that person was "saved by the bell."

The bell they used was most likely not as pretty as this one by Jill of Jillstreasurechest...

or as lovely as these jonquil bell earrings by Pam of Magdalenejewels.

Back in those days, 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 "upper crust."

Here are some BBEST items that are definitely "upper crust."

"It's My Bread" by Attackofthevintage

Banana Nut Bread Soy Candle by Ajscountrycottage

Finally, and I have saved the best for last, back in the "early days," baths were infrequent, consisted of one big tub filled with hot water, and everybody would get clean all at once. The man of the house had the privilege of having the first bath, thus enjoying nice, warm, clean water. Then followed all the sons and other men of the house; the women came next, and finally the children. Last of all to be washed were the smallest 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."

This is a cozy blanket to wrap a baby in.

Hebrew Baby Name Blanket by Barb of blazingneedles

And a quilt to cover the baby when he or she is sleeping.

Baby Scripture Quilt by Kimbuktu

Back in those early days, wouldn't the little ones have enjoyed a wonderful garment like this beautiful creation?

Body Suit Onesie by sassalynne

So those are a few of the funny expressions that are so common today but the origin of which may not have been so clear. With that......

"All good things come to an end." So, BBEST friends, it's truly been "the bee's knees." Now I'm off to "bone up" on more of these funny sayings for next time!


blazingneedles said...

What a fascinating post! And thanks for including my blanket.

ZudaGay said...

Thank you Nonnie!! This was a joy and a delight and a little bit gross in places...hehe... Wonderful items to illustrate!!

On a Whimsey said...

A fabulous post! You see, not only are BBESTers a wealth of information but a wealth of beautiful pieces too!

Just wonderful!

Chauncey said...

Nonnie, a terrific post. Its funny the way we say things that are really kind of absurd but we say them because they have always been said. Thanks for featuring my ladybug.

Jill said...

Nonnie, what an interesting post!!! I've wondered where some of those sayings came from!!! Thank you for featuring my BlueBonnet Bell!

marion said...

That's great fun, Nonnie, thanks for including my cat!

Rose said...

Hi Nonnie.. thanks for including me in this clever blog post!

Sixsisters said...

Wonderful post Nonnie. Love seeing everything.
Thanks for including my watercolor. xx

MagdaleneJewels said...

Nonnie - I loved reading every part of your blog - very informative and interesting. I love how you worked in so many of our Bbest artists, and thanks much for adding my earring among them!

Diane ~ said...

wow Nonnie, what a fabulous posting! I learned so much reading this & the way you wove our items in your post was beautiful!love it & thank you so including me! :)

circleinthesand said...

Oh my goodness, what a fun article! Thank you for explaining all of those sayings and then, the way you tied it in to a BBEST listing - just wonderful!!!

Linda said...

Thanks, everybody! This was a fun one!

Attack of the Vintage said...

Very intereseting post. It is interesting how the sayings were started and how we have lost the original meanings.
Thanks so much for including me!

joon said...

Nonnie, this is fantastic. What an imagination you have. I love your posts. So happy you volunteered. I have looked up sayings, too, and love the history behind them. I also love that we have evolved so much in the past 600 years. :) I might blog about some other cultural norms from the olden days. They make the term 'good old days' seem pure insanity! Things were downright horrendous in many ways. Love the spin you put on this topic and the matching BBEST items are just 'the icing on the cake'!!!

Judy Nolan said...

Clever and interesting post! I love how you play with words and explain the etymology.

Pam said...

Loved it, simply loved it! Have used and heard those sayings all my life and had no clue what was behind any of them. So much fun to find out, and so clever the way you featured Boomer creations to go along with each part. Thanks so much for including Magic in her pink collar. This was a wonderful, fun post!