Category Archives: Literature & Books

118. NURSERY RHYMES: SOME PRETTY AWESOME ORIGINS…

I just got in from work and I’m laying down here thinking, hmmmmm….you know what?

I miss singing those old nursery rhymes from my childhood.

O go on then! I give you full permission to start feeling fuzzy, wuzzy  and warm all over.

But hold off on the marshmallows and hot chocolate because nursery rhymes aren’t all that and a big spin down the merry-go-round.

Childhood nursery rhymes were so much fun

You’ll be surprised at the origins of most nursery rhymes which were actually parodies of the historical events of the day.

You see, back then if one were to brazenly dissent against the government and its rulers, you could find more than just your head being chopped off for entertainment in the middle of the town square.

You’d be sent off to meet your maker and your name would be considered most foul on the cracked lips of those still living.

Post-death, you would serve as an example of what could happen to a person who accidentally trips over to the darkside.

Hence why nursery rhymes were considered to be the variety TV shows of the day and here’s a little peek into how my Top 5 nursery rhymes came to be.

1. London Bridge is Falling Down – Origin: England, 11th Century

O god! The perennial favourite of every child born in Commonwealth country. A true tribute to the British Empire I must say but funnily enough, the nursery rhyme, which had children of many generations entertained, holding their arms up, playing the towers of London that hoisted the bridge up and down, was an indirect criticism of a bridge that just never really met expectations. The bridge had in the course of its history, been hit with many significantly destructive disasters and had to be rebuilt and rebuilt and rebuilt…..you get the picture!

2. Baa Baa Black Sheep – Origin: England, 13th Century

Other than teaching kids what sound a sheep makes, this nursery rhyme was actually a really fluffy political satire that targetted King Edward the first and his imposition of export taxes on wool and wool products in 1275. Of course black sheeps were quite a rarity then as they are now but if I had to figure this out, I think the nursery rhyme wasn’t quite talking about an actual sheep.

3. Hickory Dickory Dock – Origin: America, 18th Century

I am glad to say this rhyme had no political relevance unless any Native American was killed in the process of creating this rhyme. O_O. Then that would be bad indeed. Originated from a Native American liquor made of hickory nuts called ‘Powcohiccora’, this rhyme was apparently just a nonsensical little concoction for kids to have fun by mimicking the sounds of a grandfather clock. Don’t worry, this rhyme is only served up for those of legal ‘Powcohiccora’ drinking age. 😉

4. Jack & Jill Went up the Hill – Origin: France, 18th Century

This nursery rhyme, I must warn you, has a gruesome beginning. Apparently the ‘Jack & Jill’ in this rhyme actually refer to King Louis the XVI (who was ‘Jack’) who was beheaded in the French Revolution, hence why he lost his crown and his consort, Queen Antoinette (who was ‘Jill’) whose head came tumbling after her husbands. Yeup, I told you this wasn’t a pretty affair.

5. One-Two-Buckle My Shoe – Origin: England, 16th Century or possibly earlier

While there is no accurate historical beginning for this rhyme, some historians believe this rhyme came from a motivational song the working class lacemakers of 16th, 17th and 18th England had made up. So ‘1-2 buckle my shoe’ refers to the lacemaker getting ready for work while ‘3-4 shut the door’ could refer to the lacemaker closing the door to their house to make their way to work so on and so forth. No nasty, gruesome origins here, but they must’ve been some pretty retarded lacemakers to want to sing that same ole limerick for the rest of their lives.

So there you have it folks! Some of my favourite nursery rhymes explained or unexplained? You decide!

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