Posts Tagged ‘Ring Around the Rosies’

As a mom and granny, I often sing children’s songs (though not very melodically, I must add). Some of the songs and rhymes seem just “silly” with no greater meaning than to entertain the ears and imaginations of the listeners and singers. Others might have their origins in folklore, history, and other places.

Ring Around the Rosies has famously been linked to the Bubonic Plague. And here’s the theory: “Ring around the rosies” – refers to red X with a circled around it that was drawn on the doors of homes to indicate someone inside that house had the plague (or had died from it). “Pocket full of posies” – refers to the boils and blisters that often accompanied the plague. “Ashes, ashes” – refers to the remains of the bodies, homes, and possessions of the plague’s victims which were burned. Or the alternate, “Pussy-cat, pussy-cat” – which refers to the cats brought in to kill the rats (whose fleas carried the plague). “We all fall down” refers to the ultimate end of everyone, whether plague victim or not.

Or maybe it’s just a fun rhyme about kids playing in the garden!

“Jack be nimble, jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.” is another oft-repeated/sung nursery rhyme. Theories on this rhyme’s source varies from gaining good luck or fortune-telling skills from jumping over a burning candle to Yellow Fever prevention. It seems people believed Yellow Fever could be kept away by burning flames (and maybe their smoke), so candles would be lit by the beds of children to keep the fever at bay.

Or maybe, kids afraid of the dark just liked candles (and modern day nightlights) in their bedrooms to keep the monsters away.

A new possible source for me, was the She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain link to the moon goddess put forth in this article. Though I can see the moon image link, I’m not sure it’s a pagan-worship thing. And I must admit to never hearing the “she’ll be carrying six white puppies” verse before, though I have heard/sung the “she’ll have to sleep with grandma” and “she’ll be wearing red pajamas” verses.

How about you? Any children’s song sources you find interesting?

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