A milkmaid (or milk maid) is a girl or woman employed to milk dairy cows. She also used the milk to prepare dairy products such as cream, butter, and cheese. Many large houses employed milkmaids instead of having other servants do the work. The term milkmaid is not the female equivalent of milkman in the sense of one who delivers milk to the consumer; it is the female equivalent of milkman in the sense of cowman.
"As smooth as a milk maid's skin"
The expression "as smooth as a milk maid's skin" means exceptionally smooth.
This phrase came about as a result of exposure to cowpox, which causes no serious symptoms, but does convey a partial immunity to the disfiguring (and often fatal) disease smallpox. Thus, milkmaids lacked the "pockmarked" complexion common to smallpox survivors. This observation led to the development of the first vaccine.
- The legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid who guided the monks of Lindisfarne carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert to the site of the present city of Durham in 995 AD.
- The eponymous heroine of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles works as a milkmaid.
- There is a famous painting by Johannes Vermeer entitled The Milkmaid (ca. 1658). Aelbert Cuyp, another Dutch artist, created the drawing known as A Milkmaid (ca. 1640–1650).
- The California native flower commonly called Milkmaids is named for its resemblance to the hat often worn by milkmaids.
- Kid Harpoon has a song called Milkmaid; the music video features actress Juno Temple.
- The 12 days of Christmas' 8th day mentions a maid-a-milking aka milk maid.
- The Philippines has a condensed milk brand called Milkmaid, a product of Alaska Milk Corporation.
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