Why Are So Many Farmhouses Painted White?

DelmasLehman/iStock via Getty Images
DelmasLehman/iStock via Getty Images

When Aunt Polly tasks Tom Sawyer with whitewashing the fence in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, she’s not merely trying to spruce up the property with a little redecoration scheme.

As Simplemost explains, whitewashing a surface isn’t exactly the same as just painting it white—though it does bleach that surface bright white. Whitewash is a slaked lime-based liquid that prevents mildew, fights odors, repels insects, and even works as a mild antibacterial substance. It’s also inexpensive, quick-drying, and easy to apply—making it a perfect chore to delegate to your young, mischievous nephew. Because of all these factors, whitewashing farmhouses and fences became a popular trend among colonial homeowners, especially those who lived in humid climates.

According to the Daily Press, all it took to create your own whitewash was water and lime (a white powdery compound also known as calcium oxide). When combined, the mixture would bubble up and emit steam before settling into a white, paint-like substance. Rural families often had sacks of lime on hand, since it was also used as a disinfectant, an ingredient in livestock feed, and a way to temper soil acidity.

Despite its many advantages, whitewash had one drawback: It wasn’t especially long-lasting. As time went on, wealthier people transitioned to using regular white paint, which didn’t require frequent touch-ups and eventually came to serve as a status symbol.

It may have been extra common for farm owners to take advantage of the cheap, efficient method of painting their property, but they weren’t the only ones. The White House was originally whitewashed, too, which inspired its now-official nickname.

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Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

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Why Did Noon Used to Mean 3 p.m.?

3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
Mckyartstudio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a late sleeper, you might find yourself thinking 12 p.m. seems way too early to be considered midday, and the word noon would much better describe, say, 3 p.m. It turns out that ancient Romans would have agreed with you, if only for etymological reasons.

As Reader’s Digest explains, the days in ancient Rome were split into four periods of three hours each. The first hour was at sunrise around 6 a.m.—called prime, for first—followed by 9 a.m. (terce, denoting the third hour), 12 p.m. (sext, for sixth), and 3 p.m. (none, for ninth).

According to Merriam-Webster, Middle and Old English borrowed the time-keeping tradition, along with the Latin word for ninth, which was changed to nōn and eventually noon. Though we’re not sure exactly when or why noon started referring to 12 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., it could have something to do with Christian prayer traditions. In the Bible, Jesus’s crucifixion is said to have taken place at the ninth hour, and that’s when worshippers partook in their second of three daily prayers; the others were in the morning and evening. It’s possible that hungry monks were behind noon’s gradual shift from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m.—since their daily fast didn’t end until after the midday prayer, they had a built-in motive for moving it earlier.

While we didn’t exactly stay true to the original Latin meaning of noon, there’s another important remnant of ancient Rome hiding in the way we tell time today. Romans referred to 12 p.m. as meridiem, for midday, and so do we. A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, or before midday, and P.M. means post meridiem, or after midday.

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