Is it just me or are any other adults out there really spooked by traditional nursery rhymes? At first they didn’t bother me any and I barely even paid attention to the words I was reciting to my little ladies. After ten years of reading rhyme after rhyme however, they are sounding more freakishly terrifying to my old ears. Maybe these things are the reason kids never sleep!
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop When the wind blows, the cradle will rock When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall And down will come baby, cradle and all.
This one is another terrifying ode to the Royals. King James II and Mary Modena supposedly snatched up a sleeping infant and passed it off as their own in order to ensure the succession of the Catholic reign. Sleep tight, kids.
Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells And pretty maids all in a row.
Another one about Queen Mary aka Queen of the creepy nursery rhymes. The garden is supposedly code-wo for graveyard and the guillotine was lovingly referred to as “The Maiden.” Silverbells and Cockleshells are a reference to devices of torture. Never again am I reading a nursery rhyme to my kids.
Jack and Jill
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.
Nothing weird about this sweet diddy, right? Wrong. A small English town claims this rhyme is about a real couple who used to sneak off to a local hill to do the deed. Jill falls preggers, Jack smashes his head open with a blunt object (obviously not ready for fatherhood) and Jill dies in childbirth. A real love story here.
London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady.
I will admit, I didn’t ever have high hopes of this one. Bridges tumbling are never good news. This rhyme is open to suggestion. Some say it centers around child sacrifices (covering ears now) other say it has to do with the Viking attacks in the early 1000’s. Either way I hate bridges more than ever now.
Three Blind Mice
Three blind mice, three blind mice, See how they run, see how they run, They all ran after the farmer’s wife, Who cut off their tails with a carving knife, Did you ever see such a thing in your life, As three blind mice?
The back story is there are no mice…and no farm…and no happiness. The farmer’s wife is actually Queen Mary of England who didn’t cut off any tails, but rather burned three opposing noblemen (and several thousand others) at the stake.
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full!
One for the master, One for the dame, And one for the little boy who lives down the lane
This one is not as creepy in truth. Most scholars agree that it has to do with The Great Custom Tax of 1275. In recent history people have become really offended over the famous rhyme swearing that it is racially charged. One school even changed it to Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep. (Rolling eyes right now.) I’m just glad this one didn’t end in death and destruction and years worth of therapy and nightmares.
Baa Baa Black Sheep for the win!