How dark was it indoors at night before electric lighting?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,623
Sydney
in Western Europe the light of the chimney was used to do some knitting , processing walnuts , telling tales an the ever present singing
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,340
SoCal
Until the invention of electric lights reading and writing were considered daytime activities. It was possible to light enough candles or lamps to read or write at night, but most people would have thought it unusual to do so. Candles and lamp oil were expensive. Edison would not have invented the light bulb unless he thought it would be cheaper than candles and oil. Otherwise, no one would switch to electric lights. Because oil and candles were so expensive, people kept lighting to the minimum necessary.
So, what did people do during the night back then other than sleeping? Partying? What else?
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,581
Australia
Have you read 'Black Kettle and Full Moon' by Geoffrey Blainey? He describes life in Australia in the 19th and early 20th centuries, noting that in rural areas travel after dark was often timed to utilise moonlight. Town meetings, dances, fetes etc. were planned around the moon and often dances carried on all night so the travellers could go home in daylight.
Oh, we often did that , We had a lot of festivals and outdoor events here , also celebrate the 'natural cycles' ( 'pagan like' ) . Its best before the full Moon (on our festival site ) as the Moon is up and over the hills in the east to give light as it gets dark, otherwise, it gets dark and then you have to wait some time for the Moon light to lighten the site . . Besides , a full Moon often brings rain . A coastal or beach location is good on full Moon as its light is seen as the Sun sets.


I haven't read Blainey's book. But I read 'Me and You', Della Walker's story of life back then for an Aboriginal woman with 7 kids . .

Her description of country dances are amusing ; the 'girls in the know' would not accept the first half hour of invitations to dance . They would watch for a while and see which men had black trickles running down their necks as they sweat . Don't dance with those ones, if they ask you - that's just an old fellah with graying hair , trying to look young again by rubbing black boot polish through it, as they dance and sweat, the boot polish melts .

:D
 
  • Like
Reactions: Belgarion

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,581
Australia
So, what did people do during the night back then other than sleeping? Partying? What else?

In the desert or 'outback' traveling, on foot . Too hot and evaporation rate too high in day time - sleep in the middle of the day , walk at night . The desert is beautiful at night and even stars alone can light the way .