Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ring around the Rosy

Many Nursery Rhymes have darker origins. Ring around the Rosy as it is more commonly known here in the USA is a great example. In the version most known here in the South/West USA the words are:

Ring around the Rosy
A pocketful of posies
Ashes, Ashes
We all fall down

North/ East USA and Europe more commonly sing

Ring a Ring o'rosies
A pocket full of posies
A-tishoo, A-tishoo
We all fall down

This historical rhyme dates back to approximately the Great Plague/Black Plague of London in 1665 (bubonic plague)  The symptoms of the plague included a rosy red rash in the shape of a ring on the skin (Ring around the rosy). Pockets and pouches were filled with sweet smelling herbs ( or posies) which were carried due to the belief that the disease was transmitted by bad smells. The term "Ashes Ashes" refers to the cremation of the dead. The English version of "Ring around the rosy" replaces Ashes with (A-tishoo, A-tishoo) as violent sneezing was another symptom of the disease. 


Carrie Miller said...

Lovely photos!

Dirgesinger said...

I have heard about this song's origins once. Absolutely fascinating, and it is more so when considering the fact that lung plague killed its victims in less than a day after the first symptoms were discovered.

Elisabeth Neveux said...

your blogs are always so passionating :)

Spellbound In Salem said...

Oh wow! I never knew that, how interesting.

Mwezzi said...

Actually, an interesting theory though it is, the Bubonic Plague interpretation is probably just folklore, and only appeared around the early-mid 20th century. The symptoms described are not a very good match for the plague and there are so many current versions of the song that it's difficult to say which if any of them are a real match for the ancient original song.

LuLu Kellogg said...

I had never heard this either...thanks so much for sharing this with us! I love the old vintage photos.


Ellie said...

I've never heard the second version you posted. I grew up in the Northeast (NYC) and we always sang it as 'ashes, ashes'.

Thanks for the history lesson.

MarZel said...

I forget about some of the things in our society that folks try to give a "light" too, when in fact they have dark origins. Thanks!

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

That is so cool, I have read this before but had forgotten. The photos are way cool. Love this blog!!!


Dolls from the Attic said...

That was so inspiring...I wished I'd known this when I posted my post on Victorian Mourning...I just love your blogs...
Thank yor for sharing!

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