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5 Popular Nursery Rhymes and Their Real Origins

Mother Goose and nursery rhymes are almost a right of passage, but certainly a childhood tradition. As kids, we all must have enjoyed singing nursery rhymes at preschools, right? Well, nursery rhymes are recited in varied languages, and often vary from place to place.

So, do you know the origin of these favorite rhymes? Here is a list of popular nursery rhymes and their origin.

  1. Humpty Dumpty

The rhyme was first printed in 1810. During that time, a Humpty dumpty was a clumsy person. Thereupon, the rhyme was meant as a riddle. Of course, the song does not state that Humpty dumpty is an egg. Instead, the song aims at the reader to guess what Humpty dumpty is.

While everyone knows that the tale is about an egg, there is speculation that the song had an underlying meaning. Some sources explain that Humpty Dumpty represented King Richard III of England and the wall represented his horse. Others expound that the song referred to the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey at the hand of King Henry VIII. 

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  1. Goosey Goosey Gander

Of course, no one imagines a song with the phrase “Goosey” for rhyme would describe anything bad. However, this rhyme gives a tale of religious persecution. In the original version of the rhyme, the narrator expounds on how he comes upon an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers. So, he took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs.

During those days, the catholic priests were forced to hide to say their Latin-based prayers. 

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  1. London Bridge is Falling Down

In 2006, Fergie got saucy with some of these classic kid tunes. Regardless of whom you ask, ‘London Bridge is Falling’ is more about the 1014 Viking attack, normal deterioration of an old bridge, or child sacrifice. However, the Viking attack is the most popular theory.

Interestingly, the song’s popularity around the world is often cited as proof that the attack didn’t take place. Instead, Viking made the tune and sang it in most places he traveled. 

  1. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

The rhyme is among the most favorite nursery rhyme and singing game for kids. The song was first recorded in the 19th century by James Orchard Halliwell. The existing study explains that the song originated with female prisoners at HMP Wakefield. It is believed that they took a sprig from Hatfield Hall and they nurtured and grew it into a fully mature mulberry tree.

On the other hand, other historians associate the rhyme with Britain’s struggle to produce silk. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain tried to compete with China’s silk production but suffered a great loss since the mulberry trees are sensitive to frost.

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  1. Baa Baa Black Sheep

Among the most popular English Nursery Rhymes is Baa Baa Black Sheep. While there are numerous theories associated with the origin of the song, most scholars agree that the rhyme is about the great custom, a tax on wool that was introduced in 1275. The song is believed to be a complaint against the Medieval English heavy taxes on wool.

Well, the use of the word ‘black’ and ‘master’ has led to some people wondering whether there was a racial message at the center. The political correctness of the song was also in question which has led to some schools banning it in their classrooms. For others, they preferred to switch the word ‘black’ to a less offensive word such as ‘rainbow’.

Regardless of what you choose to believe, we can all admit that the stories behind these legendary rhymes are rather chilling! but they are a still a part of our history either way.

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