Interesting Origins of Famous Childhood Songs

Ring around the Rosie

Growing up there were plenty of songs that we all sang throughout our childhood. But some of those famous childhood songs actually have some pretty twisted meanings. Do you remember singing these songs as a kid?

Ring around the Rosie
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Ring Around the Rosie, 1881
Ring Around the Rosie might be one of the most popular childhood songs that we all grew up with. It dates back to 1881 and there are a couple theories of how the song came about. Some say the song is in reference to the 1665 Great Plague of London and “the rosie” means the rash and “a pocket full of posies” means the attempt of covering up the smell. About 15 percent of London’s population was killed during the plague so the end of the song, “ashes! ashes! We all fall down” could be an interpretation of all of the deaths.

But others argue that the song is really about the 19th century religious ban on dancing with Protestants. They say that the song was made up to become a way for kids to get around the ban on dancing by playing along to this song.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, 1744
Little did I know, contrary is a word that could describe a murder. So this song is actually about Queen Mary I of England, also referred to as Bloody Mary. While she was queen, she executed hundreds and so people say this song is about her murderous ways.

Old Mother Hubbard, 1805
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey is known for refusing to give King Henry VIII an annulment so he couldn’t marry Anne Boleyn. This caused King Henry’s political downfall and some say the famous song Old Mother Hubbard is actually about this incident.

Rock-a-Bye Baby, 1765
Many people believe that King James II and Mary of Modena’s son wasn’t actually their son. There is a rumor that a baby was brought in to be passed off as their child to make sure that a Roman Catholic was next in line for the throne. Because of this story, many think that the lullaby is about this child.

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