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• England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins, take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins had scratch marks on the inside; they realized they had been burying people alive! To avoid this in future burials, some bodies were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if the body would wake up. This became the custom of holding a "wake."
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake".
• If the body was buried without a wake, they would tie a string on the deceased's wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell," or he was a "dead ringer."
• According to legend, the Greek god Pan was the source of scary noises in the wilderness at night. Fright at these noises was called "panic."
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