At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we love learning new things about homes and the way people live (or used to live) in them. We came across a few fun facts that we wanted to share:
Cats and Dogs
The phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” has several different origin theories. One is that when houses used to have thatched roofs, pets and other small animals (squirrels, groundhogs, etc.) used to nestle into the straw for warmth. When it would rain, however, the straw would become slippery and the animals would slide out, creating the illusion that it was literally raining cats and dogs.
Clay tiles have been used by nearly every civilization as a roofing material, but the idea can actually be traced back to as far as 10,000 B.C. to those in China and the Middle East.
Red Front Doors
A red front door has been a symbol for many different things. In early American tradition, a red door meant “welcome.” Similarly, in the Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, a red door is known to create a welcoming energy. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front doors red when they’ve paid off their mortgage, and in Biblical times, a red door symbolized protection from the Angel of Death.
Many people believe that metal roofs are more likely to be struck by lightning, but that’s not true. Although metal does conduct electricity, it doesn’t actually draw lightning. Instead, lightning will search for the highest object in the area.
The term “housewarming party” comes from the literal tradition that used to occur before electricity. Every time a person built or bought a new home, guests would bring firewood as gifts and light fires in the home’s fireplaces. This not only “christened” the house, but was said to ward off evil spirits.
Home Sweet Home
The majority of homeowners tend to stay in their homes for around six years before moving.
When straw was used to cover slate and stone floors in order to keep them cold, homeowners had to find a way to keep the straw inside when the front door was opened. To do so, they built a wooden floorboard in the doorway in order to “thresh” (or separate) the straw from the outside. This became known as a threshold.
The people of Easter Island have a word, “tingo,” which means to slowly take all of your neighbor’s possessions by borrowing one at a time and never giving them back.