Nursery rhymes. A staple in many classrooms with little learners.
We've all read them, sung them, perhaps even made crafts based on them.
But, did you know that whilst some are merely nonsensical others have hidden meanings rooted in British history?
The following are 7 of my favourite nursery rhymes with their hidden secrets revealed.
Jack Be Nimble
Jumping candlesticks was a form of fortune telling. Clearing the jump without extinguishing the flame was thought to foretell good luck. As ridiculous as it sounds I guess it is no more farcical than tarot cards and the likes.
Mary Had A Little Lamb
Prompted by her brother, Mary Sawyer took her lamb to school in 1830. Naturally, it caused a little bit of excitement!
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
It has been speculated that Mary is Mary I of England. "Quite contrary" is clearly a political reference whilst "How does your garden grow?" highlights her failure to produce an heir. Rather gruesomely, the "pretty maids" are said to refer to either her miscarriages or her executions of Protestants.
One of my childhood favourites. I was horrified to discover that is has been associated with the Great Plague in England. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague whilst people carried poses in their pockets to shield themselves from its stench. Sneezing was the final symptom for the suffers who then fell down and died! However, this link has been dismissed as urban legend by experts since the plague theory did not appear until the mid-twentieth century.
Old Mother Hubbard
A political commentary with disputed origins. Some speculate a connection to Henry VIII's divorce request which was engineered by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and refused by the Pope.
Originally a riddle. The challenge was to guess the identity of Humpty Dumpty. I always wondered why he appeared as anthropomorphic egg in illustrations - mystery solved!
Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!
Created by Samuel Goodrich in 1846 to mock the folly of nursery rhymes. Ironically it became popular!
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