Old Wives’ Tales are handed down through the generations. But do they bear any relevance to modern life? Which? Conversation community member Ian explores the truth behind these tales.
What do hairy babies, pennies and carrots have in common? Not much, you might think, but each is a component of the ever-popular Old Wives’ Tales.
Which of us hasn’t been told something by a grandparent or great grandparent which we may well have believed as children, but which might also have been little more than a saying passed down the generations?
‘Eat your carrots as they help you see in the dark’ or ’having heartburn during pregnancy will mean a hairy baby’
These are but two of the countless fragments of folklore, and we often dismiss them as outmoded and irrelevant sayings. But what if they’re not?
Fact or fiction?
Although we live in a society which often turns to science for solutions to everything, from cleaning wine-stained carpets to treating colds, what we often forget is that science has been using many of the ideas behind the sayings to develop modern solutions.
Aspirin, for instance, was developed from those who chewed willow bark as an analgesic and – interestingly – having heartburn during pregnancy could increase your chance of having a hairy baby, as a Johns Hopkins team who set out to disprove the adage discovered – to their surprise.
But one crucial factor about these old sayings is that some of them not only work rather well, but they can save us a lot of money.
Instead of paying for an armoury of chemicals, simply using bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, newspaper and vinegar can make the kitchen, bathroom and windows sparkle as well as removing stubborn stains from dishes and sinks.
A penny for your thoughts
So what remedies do you know? Snippets passed down from grandparents perhaps, or old sayings you can barely remember but that might have an application today.
Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? Perhaps you routinely use ideas from your parents to clean tricky items, such as suede or brass, or perhaps you know a sure-fire method for cleaning windows that costs next to nothing. If you have an idea, share it below and perhaps we can all start saving money.
This is a guest post by Ian, a regular community member on Which? Conversation. All opinions are Ian’s own, not necessarily those of Which? We chose Ian’s idea from the ‘Your ideas’ section on the website, make sure you share your ideas too.