One origin, that’s probably the most popular, comes from a time when hangings were more of a regular occurrence. You might see someone hanged as you were getting your groceries. Anyway, the idea was that the executioner might make the prisoner stand on a bucket, tighten the noose then kick the bucket out from under them. Another thought along this line has to do with suicide by hanging. The person trying to kill them self would fasten a noose, stand on a bucket then kick it away, sealing the deal. The problem with this origin is that there are no records found of people using buckets for hanging. They usually used trapdoors, and if they were going to kick something out from under their feet, they would use taller things like chairs, tables and horses.
A more probable story comes from another origin, which has to do with the slaughtering of pigs. You see a bucket, way back when, didn’t mean what we think of when we say bucket today. A bucket was the name for a pulley, and in some places in England, just a beam. A rope was hung over the beam, or put through the pulley, and the pig was hung up by its back feet. Hanging pigs up like this is still how they’re slaughtered today. Anyway, as the pig was dying, it’s back feet would spasm, kicking the beam or pulley, hence the name, kick the bucket.
Gruesome, I know…
As always, thanks for reading!