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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Origins Of Our Favorite Nursery Rhymes


Nursery Rhymes

We loved to sing these rhymes during our innocent childhood days. Because of the jolly and carefree tune of these songs, we even included these rhymes in our childhood play. Most of us are clueless that these songs were clouded by dark origins.

London Bridge Is Falling Down

The Foundations in the Song London Bridge Is Falling Down

According to researchers and historians, the song is all about human sacrifice to strengthen the foundation of bridges. The line ''London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady'' is the most memorable from the song. Other lines such as 'Iron bars will bend and break(Repeat 3x) My fair lady' implies human sacrifice. Stories about human sacrifice in bridges are still common in modern times; for example, the San Juanico Bridge urban legend.

 Baa Baa Black Sheep

The Baa Baa Black Sheep

The song Baa Baa Black Sheep is often an alternative for the song Mary Have A Little Lamb. The song is said to be written in the early 1700s. It is said that the song has a racial slur or overtone. 

Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane

The words 'master and black' seems to have a darker meaning in it. Since the song is written in the 1700s the time when slavery was prevalent.

Jack And Jill

Jack And Jill

In the surface meaning, we thought that this song is just all about 2 kids who went up the hill and they're not that successful in doing so. There are several stories regarding power hungry monarchs and agitated revolutionaries that may have inspired to write this seemingly innocent song.

The line :

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

This line might be an implication There are many theories pointing out that the song might be an allegory to the French Revolution and the fates of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. They are executed by guillotine, Jack fell down and broke his crown refers to Louis XVI while the line

'And Jill came tumbling after' implies Marie Antoinette's fate as well.

 Three Blind Mice

The Heresy in the Three Blind Mice Song

We all know that mice are vermins, and they can be used as laboratory animals. In the surface, the song is all about a farmer's wife who has caught and cut the poor tails of 3 mice. But there is an underlying historical background of the rhyme. Many historians suspect that the song might be an allegory about the execution of 3 blind Protestant bishops named Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicolas Radley. They are executed because of their 'blind' beliefs according to historians, thus they are the 3 blind mice.


After reading this article, you might think twice when you happen to listen to the nursery rhymes you have enjoyed as a kid. Is there really a deeper meaning when we scratch the surface meaning?

Images: Very Angry Bird, Pinterest, YouTube, Mama Lisa

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