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I got to thinking recently about nursery rhymes and songs that we say and sing to babies and youngsters. What was I thinking, you ask?

Why are they all so hideous?

Now, hear me out. We were in the car (my Mum and I) with Amelia in the car seat, and Mum was singing ‘Three Blind Mice’ to her, keeping her amused. She was all happy and smiling and it suddenly dawned on me…the lyrics are really disturbing! ‘She cut off their tails with a carving knife.’?

Now, I know there are children’s stories etc that are quite dark, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and so forth, but I never actually stopped and thought before about all those other songs and rhymes and what they mean…so I did a little research online and found out a few little tidbits of info that I found quite interesting…enjoy!

Three Blind Mice: This actually comes from a real historical event – it is about Queen Mary I, (Henry VIII’s daughter). She was also known as ‘Bloody Mary’ due to her severe and violent persecution of Protestants. Apparently there were three noblemen who were plotting against her so she had them burned at the stake, them among many others – the story obviously became corrupted over the years and involved her cutting them up. I mean, gross or what?

Ring a Rosies: This one cracks me up – its about The Plague. Yes, you heard me – the plague. The Black Death. Apparently the ‘rosy ring’ refers to the sores that appeared at the start of the disease, the ‘posies’ is about the pomander of sweet smelling stuff that people held under their noses, supposedly to ward off the disease and also to block the smell of rotting and diseased bodies, and ‘atishoo’ is a corruption of ‘ashes’ and ‘we all fall down’ doesn’t really need explained….eww.

Jack & Jill: Apart from the fact that it is already aΒ really sad and tragic story of two hard working little children who were only going up to fetch some water, presumably for their evening bath or to cook their dinner with, its actually about King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette! Most of us with a basic knowledge of European history will know that they were beheaded ‘broke their crowns’ during the Reign of Terror in France in 1793. What a delightful story….ahem.

And a few more things I found out…

Humpty Dumpty was a cannon, not a weird hybrid Egg-Man. Kind of disappointed about that one.

Little Miss Muffet was a real person called Patience Muffet, daughter of Dr. Muffet, a famous Entomologist (person who studies insects)

The ‘silver bells’ and ‘cockle shells’ in ‘Mary Mary Quite Contrary’ were again referring to instruments of torture used by Bloody Mary to torture her prisoners…don’t even ask where they used the ‘cockle shells’…

Of course I feel the need to say that there are lovely rhymes and songs, like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’…which I feel may become a bit more popular in our house from now on.

God, I hope I don’t have nightmares tonight…

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