Exploring habits throughout history; Roman hygiene considered taboo today

Chloe Ward, Reporter

      History is full of a wide variety of human practices and habits that are considered taboo today. From vile hygiene habits to odd remedies to disregarding human rights entirely, historical practices give insight into what the human experience may have been like back in that time.

     Romans are one group that is infamous for their questionable hygiene habits and cruel behaviors. A typical day in the civilization would include a light breakfast, work, and then they would go to the public baths for socialization. These buildings were grand communal areas with several rooms, all containing baths of different temperatures, according to worldhistory.org. 

       The idea may sound grand and fancy, but in reality, it would allow intestinal parasites and other diseases to spread through the water. However, because visiting them every day was habitual, they continued to go daily. 

     Aside from the Romans, Mrs. Nicole Reimers explains that bathing every day, “is a relatively new habit in our society.” She said, “there was less access to water so it was easier to just wash your face and hands.” An example of this, described by History.com, were the Pilgrims and the Puritans. They thought that submerging their body was unhealthy, and removing their clothing was too immodest.

     Sometimes if there were bathhouses in a society, only the wealthy would be able to afford using them. However, sometimes cultures didn’t bathe for superstitious reasons. “Some cultures believed that being dirty kept sickness away,” said Reimers.

     In the 16th century, royals in Europe also had some abnormal habits. For example, Henry VIII supposedly had his servants kiss his linen sheets before bed to ensure they were not covered in poison (historyextra.com). 

      While it was fairly typical at the time to have tasters try a king’s food prior to him eating it, they also became paranoid that poison could kill just from having physical contact. 

     Not all habits of the past were gross or completely distant from the modern-day. Many of the great minds in history, Charles Dickens, Beethoven, and others all had very interesting habits, but they have the potential to inspire people of today. Charles Dickens tended to follow a militaristic and strict schedule, and had a habit of organizing all of his pens on his desk in order to think clearly (History.com). 

    He also only slept facing north, as he believed “ it better aligned him to the electrical currents of the Earth.” Even Beethoven had a weird habit- he would obsessively count out 60 coffee beans for his coffee nearly every morning.