Here are 8 Nursery Rhymes with Dark, Bizarre Origins. If you hear a teacher or parent teaching children these songs, poems and verses, kindly explain to them to actual meanings and stop them:
8. Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary sounds like a lovely English Garden nursery rhyme, but, in actuality, it is far from that. The nursery rhyme refers to Queen Mary I of England, who became known affectionately as Bloody Mary in history books. The poem is about a graveyard of protestants slain by a devout Catholic queen [Mary I] who ruled England during a time of religious turmoil. The silver bells and cockleshells are torture devices, and the maids in all in a row refer to a device that was the predecessor to the guillotine, also known as“the maiden.”
7. Baa Baa Black Sheep
The nursery rhyme has nothing to do with black sheep or even the little boys. The song is all about taxes! Back in the 1400s, King Edward I realized that he could make easy money by taxing the sheep farmers. As a result of the newly levied taxes, one third of the price of a sack of wool went to the king, a third went to the church, and the last third to the farmers.
6. Humpty Dumpty
In the story, Humpty Dumpty is portrayed as a large egg that is dressed masculine. It’s a sad story, as he gets beaten up and no one could fix him in the end. However, the real story behind the rhyme has to do with the English Civil War. Humpty was a huge cannon mounted atop a high wall-like church tower. During the Siege of Colchester, it was hit by enemy cannon fire and fell off the wall. There was no fixing the cannon or the tower, and the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme was created to reflect history books.
5. Georgie Porgie
People have a hard time with sex education curriculums now involving topics related to gay marriages and mixed families, so I am sure that after they read this they’ll stop making references to the nursery rhyme. This seemingly innocent nursery rhyme actually has a sexual connotation attached to it. Georgie Porgie refers to George Villiers, a bisexual nobleman who lived from 1592 to 1628. George was widely favoured by King James I. His friendship with the monarch was so close that he was able to gain vast power and position in just a short period of time. Rumour also has it that George and King James I were lovers due to their intimate friendship, and accounts from various court diaries and letters proved this to be true.
4. Rock-a-Bye Baby
There are many theories explaining the source of this all-time favorite lullaby, but perhaps the most intriguing one of them all comes from a controversial Native American custom. Legend has it that a certain pilgrim saw an American Indian mother hanging her baby from a tree; the baby was inside a birch bark cradle. There were two reasons behind this custom. By suspending her baby from a tree, the Native American mother can work freely, knowing that her child is safe from animal predators. The other reason being the wind lulling the baby to sleep. Both methods would deem you to be an incompetent parent in today’s world as they would be almost always fatal to the child.
3. Jack & Jill
Jack was King Louis XVI and Jill was Queen Marie Antoinette who were both beheaded during the French Revolution. Only that the King was beheaded or “broke his crown” before the Queen in real life. Other stories say that it is about two lovers who go to the hill to make love (pail of water is an idiom for sex). Jack got killed with a rock that fell on his head. Meanwhile, Jill died in childbirth.
2. Oranges & Lemons
The second part of this nursery rhyme reveals the true meaning of the entire story and the mysterious introduction – the poor guy ends up dead! The bells belong to famous churches in London; it’s possible that these were the churches that condemned men who would pass them on the way to their execution. Great Britain was notorious for having monarchs who would execute innocent people and send them to their deaths at the Tower of London….I wonder if there is any relation.
1. Ring Around the Rosie
This is the grimmest nursery rhymes of them all. This seemingly innocent “floral” song actually refers to the Black Death of 1665. “The Rosies” have nothing to do with flowers – it is a rash linked to infected people. “The pocket of posies” were herbs carried around as air fresheners or possibly herbal medicines, which were ineffective when it came to warring off the plague. Ashes, or Atichoo, depending on the verse you learned, were either the ashes of the funeral pyres of burned victims of the plague or sneezes of the infected. I am sure you can figure out the meaning of “we all fall down” after reading this paragraph. Note that many children today sing “Hasha hasha we all fall down” due to the dark “Ashes” analogy.