|18th-century Copper Bathtub|
People living back in the 18th century wanted to feel and look clean as much as we do, but their standards of cleanliness weren’t the same as ours. Taking a bath by immersing one’s body in a tub full of warm water wasn’t a daily or even weekly practice for great majority of people. For one thing, clean, water was hard to come by. Today all we have to do is to turn on a faucet, but in the 18th century finding and drawing enough clean water, and then heating it in order to take a full bath required a ton of labor. Without sewage systems, running water, and indoor plumbing, somebody had to carry all that water from the source, heat it, and carry it to the tub. And afterward they’d have to carry it all away. You were either going have to do it yourself or be able to afford servants to manage the task. Heating large amounts of water over a fire was also no picnic, not to mention the need for plenty of firewood, which first had to be chopped … well, you get the idea. Not going to happen too often!
|Attributed to Gerardus Duyckinck|
|River Scene with Bathers by Claude Joseph Vernet|
I know many people love to lounge luxuriously in a hot bath, but that doesn’t work for me. I prefer taking showers, which allows me to get toasty warm without overheating, while also solving the problem of rinsing. Which do you prefer—a bath or a shower? Please share your preferred bathing experience with us. And we’d also love to hear about any special bath soaps or other bath products you especially love that add to the pleasure of getting clean!
~~~J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is a professional editor, a publisher, and the author of award-winning historical fiction whose books have been endorsed by bestselling authors such as Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jocelyn Green, Michelle Moran, and MaryLu Tyndal. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. She is also the author of One Holy Night, which won the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and co-authored the award-winning Northkill Amish Series with Bob Hostetler.