Ah, nursery rhymes. Don’t they bring back the fondest memories of your childhood? However, if you knew the true background of where some of these nursery rhymes originated, those memories might not have been so warm and cuddly.
Are you ready for your childhood memories to be destroyed? Read on!
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
“…had a wife and couldn’t keep’r! He put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.”
Very well, indeed – considering his wife was actually caught running around, so Peter supposedly murdered her and hid her body inside of an apparently large pumpkin.
Other versions of this story suggest it is about the English King John, who placed a nobleman’s wife inside of a brick wall for being too rebellious and allowed her to starve to death.
Rub a Dub, Dub!
“…three men in a tub!”. While that already sounds pretty fishy to begin with, consider the rest of the lyrics:
“And who do you think they be? The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and all of them out to sea.”
Thing is, there was another version that made rounds that was far more scandalous in nature than a child’s nursery rhyme should ever be!
“Hey! Rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
And all of them gone to the fair.”
‘Ring Around the Rosie
“…pockets full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” You might remember this being all fun and games while singing and playing along to this rhyme as a child. However, it had a much darker meaning back in the 1660s.
It is widely believed that this rhyme originated during the Great Plague of London, with the verses implying some of the symptoms of the plague. What would happen during the “black death” is that a black area would appear on the skin, with a reddish area surrounding it – hence the “ring around the rosie.”
“A pocket full of posies” represented how corpses would be lined with flowers to help hide their rotting smell, and the meaning of “ashes, ashes” is pretty obvious.
Jack and Jill
You all know this one! “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 is believed to refer to Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI of France, both of which were beheaded during the French Revolution.