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10 simple things that are not as old as you think

Modern life is full of simple amenities. It is easy to forget that we had to do without her not so long ago. From our plates to our chairs, some of the simplest things we use every day owe their existence to the explosion of leisure and luxury after the Second World War.

Even simple tools such as forks, which we believe were forever there, have been introduced to western and northern Europe only in recent centuries. In this list we have summarized 10 of the most surprising simple things that are not as old as you think.

10 Sofas

Like many fashionable things, sofas and sofas first appeared in royal French court. Portraits from the late 17th century show noble French women lying on sofas.

German dignitaries visiting the French court complained that it no longer looked like a royal court because everyone was sitting or lying around. However, these sofas were more for lying than for sitting and had little resemblance to the sofas we sit on today.

The first example of something we could recognize as a sofa today was the Chesterfield, a design that can still be found today. It was founded in the 18th century by Lord Chesterfield, who wanted it to be a place where the elite could sit and preserve their dignity. The Chesterfield was a hit by the British upper classes and quickly spread to many stately homes and mansions across the country. [1]

The average man or woman, however, still had no sofa or couch in her home. The living room or lounge became increasingly popular in the Victorian era as suburban homes became more and more luxurious.

But they were usually still places of family activity. In short, most Victorians saw no great need to buy a big, expensive seat if they could invest in books, drawing utensils, or musical instruments.

The rise of the couch largely coincided with the explosive growth of the radio and television, which gave people more reason to sit idle in their living rooms. New furniture trends have made them easier and cheaper, making them more affordable for the modern family.

By the end of World War II, most of the houses in the west were built around a central living room dominated by a large garden couch and TV.

9 Highways

Today most of us do not think about jumping over the highway to cover long distances. But the US is huge and it is almost unimaginable to travel from one state to another without the help of the highway system. But until recently, it was surprising that if you wanted to travel through the United States, you had to put up with terrible roads.

The plan for the construction of the motorway system was only launched in 1956. The Federal Aid Highway Act set up a plan for more than 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of high-capacity highway, which would accommodate a large number of vehicles at the same time.

The aim was to eliminate insecure roads and inefficient routes and to ensure safety and speed travel through the country. However, a key concern of President Eisenhower was that the evacuation of population centers in the US should be facilitated in the event of a nuclear attack.

During the Second World War Eisenhower was present in Germany, where the NSDAP had organized the construction of a far-reaching motorway network in the 1930s. He resolutely returned to the US to bring it to America.

The construction of such an ambitious project, however, required sacrifice: many old cities were split in half by the new roads, and hundreds of buildings, including people's homes, were destroyed. had to be demolished to make way for these highways. [2]

Demonstrators turned against the construction in many places and delayed the process. In the meantime, other unforeseen problems have blocked progress in other areas. The Interstate Highway System was finally declared complete in 1992.

8 Dinner plate

Today we are more than used to eating dinner from ceramic plates, but until recently, only the richest in society could afford that luxury. Only a few hundred years ago, the idea of ​​a ceramic dinner plate was completely foreign to the West.

In the Middle Ages, most people ate their food from a wooden bowl. Dishes were not widely used because the vast majority of meals (or at least those not eaten by the rich) were in the form of soups, stews and porridge.

Wooden bowls were simple, cheap and practical. If an average man or woman needed a plate, they would use a trench cutter halfway between a plate and a tray. Often these trench eaters were old, stale bread that had hardened. The trencher could then be eaten after dinner or, if you were richer, distributed as alms to the poor.

The upper classes ate their meals from pewter plates, plates and bowls. Unfortunately, tin often contained lead, tending to lead poisoning over time. Apart from that, the harness of the upper class looked quite similar to what we need today.

In the 1600s and 1700s, the European nobility developed an obsession with everything that had to do with Chinese and Japanese. This concerned everything from decor to furniture to painting styles, but was particularly noticeable in the dining room. [3]

The wealthy like to show their fine porcelain – their ceramic and porcelain cups and plates imported from the East. Owning a complete ceramic set was a dream, but it was also very expensive, so very few could afford it.

During the Victorian era, the ceramics industry became industrialized. Places like Stoke-On-Trent in the UK started producing ceramics at a fraction of the normal price. In the 1900s, almost all people in the UK and US ate their meals from ceramic plates.

7 Novels

Literature and drama have been around for thousands of years. Although we can not lose sight of an ancient Greek tragedy, most of us have heard of them, and many of us had to read Shakespeare at school. But almost all the old entertainment programs had one thing in common. It should be performed and enjoyed together – on stage or at an event and not alone.

In Shakespeare's day, even the most dedicated of his fans would never have read the pieces on paper. Similar to how we enjoy movies today, most of the conversation did not require reading at the time.

The birth of the novel largely coincided with the rise in literacy among ordinary people. For much of history, however, books were mostly non-fiction.

They served as reference books or guides for a scientific or wealthy elite who could afford to learn the skills to read them and had the money to buy them. But as everyone in society became able to read, a new market was created for people willing to read literature themselves.

The first novels moved in a narrow line between fiction and non-fiction. Most of them portrayed themselves as biographies of real people with sensational stories, such as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders . The novel, as we know it today, was created in the early 19th century. One of the first novels that gained wide popularity was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice published in 1812. [4]

6 Picnics

Picnics are what we end up doing with our parents and other older family members. They are a simple, quiet, nice and slow way to spend our afternoon. They have a quaint charm of the old world, as if they belonged to a more peaceful, more traditional time than the one we live in.

If someone points out to a Victorian, he probably would have done this scratched his head and looked at the person weird. This is because the picnic was usually an indoor party. It was a tradition brought to Great Britain (and thus to America) by exiled French nobles who had been driven out by the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century.

Many of them were used to having a better lifestyle than they could afford now. We started holding parties together to make them cheaper. One person provided the venue, and all guests were expected to bring something to eat (and plenty of alcohol) to contribute to the buffet. For most of the Victorian era, the picnic meant a drunken indoor party that was usually amateur and celebrated late into the night.

For vague reasons, the picnic was adapted by the English middle class in the early 19th century. The country was in the middle of the romantic movement that glorified nature. Many of them took their parties outside to be closer to the wild world.

Both indoor and outdoor picnics existed side by side until the early 1900s, when the outdoor picnic took hold. However, it took several decades for the alcohol and celebrations to be replaced by the sandwich and wicker basket. [5]

5 Supermarkets

Many of us are afraid of having to make the weekly drive to the supermarket. More recently, however, weekly shopping meant going to more than one place: bread from the bakery, meat from the butcher, fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer and cereal, canned food and the like from the grocer. Almost all of these businesses were run by individuals or families and had their own suppliers, prices and customs.

Chain stores appeared in the US for the first time in the 1920s, but they more or less followed this system. The first supermarket did not appear until 1930, but it took a long time for the world to get used to it. [6]

Especially in the UK, where the first supermarket opened in 1948. People struggled with the concept of the supermarket, feeling rude when it came to getting items off the shelves, and were stunned by the wide variety of items. Throughout World War II, not a single British family bought their food in a supermarket.

Old habits die hard. As recently as 1950, only 35 percent of America's food was purchased in supermarkets.

Today's retail world emerged in the 1960s, when gigantic, stylish supermarkets emerged, tailor-made for the conditions behind the scenes, attracting and retaining customers. In the meantime, shopping malls and the like have been collecting smaller, more specialized stores to make shopping easier.

4 ovens

Ovens are one of the oldest tools for cooking food. Thousands of years ago, these were simple constructions. Made of clay or earth, they could be as simple as a hole in the ground with a fire.

But even in the Middle Ages and beyond, most households had no stove. Instead, they bought their cooked food directly from the baker or paid him a small amount to use his own oven. This was because the ovens were large and difficult to move and manage, especially in the relatively poor home of the average medieval family.

The first cast-iron stoves were produced in relatively high numbers in the 18th century and innovative in the Victorian era made them smaller, more advanced and cheaper. It was only in the 1830s that the first compact iron stoves were commercially successful, but even then most people still cooked on the stove. [7]

The modern product with an internal oven and a hob for pots and pans were only found in most of the western houses in the 1920s. At that time, electric ovens had already begun to compete with the type of gas.

3 Backyards

Even though the backyard arouses unwanted thoughts of lawn mowing or weeding on the flowerbed, our backyards today are undeniably places of entertainment and pleasure. Regardless of whether we use it for barbecues or for sitting on the terrace, it is undisputed that our farms are today like our own private parks.

Until recently the yards behind our houses were jobs, not free time. In front of the indoor installations and bathrooms most of the houses had an outbuilding at the end of the yard.

Before cooling down, the families whose homes had no cold, dry basements dug a root cellar in the yard to store fresh food. Most of the time, this fresh food was grown on its own, as much of the farm was used to grow root crops such as carrots, potatoes and turnips in gardens. [8]

Also in urban areas The farm often supplemented the economy of the household. It could be used for woodwork or other craft work that otherwise would have required the rental of a workshop. It could also be used to keep animals like chickens or dogs, which is still relatively common in America.

The use of the courtyard as a practical place ended in the post-war years of the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Advertising and the media began to portray the home as a place of rest from work. The stereotypical family unit was dominated by a man who went to work every day and a wife who stayed home to look after the children. Society changed and the farm became a place of luxury and not work.

2 Forks

For hundreds of years we have been using forks in the West. , , but they were an agricultural and gardening tool. The idea of ​​using a small fork to eat was a novelty and would have caused some loud laughter until recently in history.

Since the Middle Ages and beyond, most people have used a knife to eat their food. This was the same knife they carried around their belts and used for their other daily tasks.

If you were a wealthy person, you had special spoons (often silver) for feasting, but these were handed over at meals and collected again to make sure they were not stolen. Even in these situations, most guests brought their own knives to the table and forks were unknown.

When a second food handling device was needed, most – including the richest – used only their hands. This was partly why they washed their hands before and after each meal.

At first, forks became suspicious and ridiculous. Medieval religious writers used them as an example of unnecessary vanity and excesses, suggesting that the desire to not touch the food was an example of pride. Others thought they were ridiculous, difficult to use and pretty pointless. This may be true, as the few medieval forks were usually two-pronged. [9]

The fork reached France at the end of the 16th century, when Catherine de Medici brought the custom to the royal court and introduced it to the nobility. It remained a tool of the elite for a long time and was generally used in France in the 1750s and in Britain and beyond in the 1800s.

Even then, there were those who avoided the fork and its strange ways. As late as 1897, some British sailors refused to eat with forks because they considered the items unmanageable.

1 beds

Nowadays there are so many ways to adapt a bed as there are people to sleep in one. We can choose from thousands of different mattress materials, sizes and styles, different bedspread thicknesses, and an infinite number of duvet colors and patterns. No two beds have to look the same.

But the bed, as easy as it seems, has not been in operation for so long. In fact, we are optimizing the technologies for memory foam and the like to this day. But go back in time – let's say in the Middle Ages – and beds will be almost unrecognizable.

If you were moderately rich, your family would have a very large bed. This bed, surrounded by posts and curtains, was usually big enough for four or five people and could be used by the whole family at once. The richest had beds for the parents and separated for the children. The average man, however, made his bed on the floor with fresh rushes and perhaps a blanket.

Life in the Middle Ages was much more communal than it is today. Despite the apparent privacy concerns, most people did not find it appropriate to share the dorm with their fellow human beings. [10]

In the early Middle Ages, even the concept of a bedroom as an independent room was rare and somewhat foreign. The idea of ​​separate bedrooms evolved during the Renaissance, but it did not prevail in all social classes until the 18th century. Even then, it was common for up to six siblings to share a single room, if not a single bed, without anyone slapping an eyelid.

The beds themselves continued to develop. The idea of ​​corner posts went out of fashion, and the first spring mattress was designed in the middle of the Victorian era. However, it was rough and squeaky and spring mattresses were not common until the 1950s. At that time, the minimalist bedsteads of today had become fashionable.

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