A story of laundry or gossip?

Une histoire de lessive ou de commérages ?

Do you find doing your laundry an exhausting household chore?

Imagine yourself in the 12th century when washing machines didn't exist.

Here is a little jump back to discover the history of laundry.

At that time, the washerwomen washed their laundry only once a year (the olfactory discovery must have been interesting…). Lavandières is the very poetic word to designate the women who washed the laundry by hand.

Fortunately, the time of laundry is modernized a little, in the 13th century: the linen was washed twice a year!

The washerwomen met in spring and autumn during the Grandes buées for three days. The first day , called Purgatory, was intended for the sorting and soaking of linen in a terracotta tub called a vat room. The second day , named Hell, allowed the casting process to be carried out by sprinkling the vat with increasingly hot water, to become boiling. Hell, because it was hell for women to carry all their laundry at arm's length and get scalded from time to time.

On the third day , Paradise, the cooled laundry was taken to the laundry to be beaten, rinsed and wrung out. At the end of this day, the linen became pure again for the families.

By dint of spending time together, the laundry has become "the place to be" for gossip and gossip. Very strong disputes could then break out and many hidden stories emerged, including deceptions, breakups... A saying went "In the laundry, we wash the laundry but we dirty people". Now you know where the expression "washing your dirty laundry in public" comes from!

To end this mood post, we share with you a poem by Achille Millien:

"It is here, from morning till night,

Only by tongue and beater

We wash the whole town.

We talk loud, we hit hard,

The beater beats, the tongue bites!

To be a skilful washer,

Must be proven in front of witnesses

That the beater is very agile,

That language is no less so."

Achille Millien (1838-1927)

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