“Ring a Ring O'Roses”. Have you ever sung this rhyme??

Ireland
April 4, 2007 6:35pm CST
I sneezed to-day and my grandaughter said “Bless you”. I then thought, why do we always say “Bless you when somebody sneezes? I asked my grandaughter if she knew why we do this and she explained the answer with this little rhyme which we used to sing as children. Ring around the 'rosies A pocketful of posies ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo We all fall down. The rhyme is allegedly associated with the Great Plague of London. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague, posies of herbs were carried as protection, sneezing was a fatal symptom, and all fall down was when people died. Do you have any other ideas about the origination of this rhyme?
13 people like this
31 responses
@nancygibson (3737)
• France
5 Apr 07
I was always told as a child that Ring a roses was a plague rhyme, but as an archaeologist with an interest in the medieval period it actually doesnt add up. The symptoms are not that of Bubonic plague at all, that was symptomised by a fever and black buboes or pus filled swellings at lymph nodes such as under the groin. So, the folklore doesnt quite match the evidence. I don't know what disease it would match up with though. Fascinating stuff folklore.
3 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
As an archaeologist I guess you would have a good knowledge of this. Thanks for your very interesting response.
2 people like this
@Eskimo (2317)
5 Apr 07
There were a number of different diseases called the Plague in England, Bubonic was only one of them, there was also pneumonic, and several other similar ones, it probably wouldn't have mattered to the victims which type of plague they had. I have stayed in an hotel in the Lake District which had a plaque saying that people living there carried the plague to London (before they were aware of the symptoms).
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@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
5 Apr 07
Lololol no I haven't I know I used to sing this rhyme as a Child and do the actions lol but I have never thought of it any other Way then a Game Hugs
3 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I always thought it was just a game as I was never told any different. I am sure my parents mustn't have known anything about this, as otherwise I might not have been allowed to play it.
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@EvanHunter (4028)
• United States
5 Apr 07
Yes I heard that its about the plague also, but I grew up with one line as ashes, ashes..we all fall down or atleast thats what I was always told. I also heard the reason we say bless you when someone sneezes is because it was believed you actually lost a piece of your soul when you would sneeze and if you said bless you there sould would go directly to heaven.
3 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I would love to think that a piece of my soul went to heaven every time I sneezed and somebody said "Bless you". What a lovely explaination and thanks for sharing it.
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@charms88 (7541)
• Philippines
5 Apr 07
Hi alexandria, I know that some of the rhymes have its origin but the one you mentioned is not something I'm familiar with. For some people who said "bless you" after a sneeze, it is because most people are saying it too. From what I can decipher, if somebody gave a good sneeze, the other person will say "bless you" when what he/she really mean is "thank you" for contaminating me with your sneezing. :)
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I don't think I would be saying "Bless you" to somebody who sneezed all over me. I would make as if to clean my eye and say "Thank you" but it would be said in a sarcastic manner.
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@youdontsay (3503)
• United States
5 Apr 07
Yes, I've heard that explanation for the rhyme. But sneezing is a different superstition. When you inhale to sneeze, the belief goes, you bring in evil/bad spirits. So those around you "bless" you to combat the spirits. At least that is what I've heard.
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I was only going to post a topic about sneezing until my grandaughter told me about the rhyme and I found it so interesting that I had to post the whole lot. Thanks for reponding and I have to say that your reply makes a lot of sense.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Apr 07
Yes I have heard that is where the saying came from.I also heard the plague was carried by fleas infectionous bites,the fleas were carried by the rats.Interesting huh? Makes you glad things are a bit cleaner now.
2 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I don't think I would like to have lived back in those days and yes, I'm certainly glad that things are a lot cleaner now.
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@cynddvs (2950)
• United States
5 Apr 07
I have actually hear of this. One of my English teachers in high school told me about this. I think it was my freshman English teach actually. We talked about really off the wall stuff in that class. She told us the originations of a lot of nursery rhymes. I wish I could think of some. If I think of any I'll have to post them
2 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
My curiosity has now got the better of me and I will probably spend some time checking out some more of these rhymes. Thanks for commenting.
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• United States
5 Apr 07
I remember play that as a game when I was a child and we all flopped down at the end. You have the correct origin it is the same as on this link http://www.rhymes.org.uk/ring_around_the_rosy.htm
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• Ireland
5 Apr 07
It seems to be the same on all the sites that I have checked and I am still wondering if it is true. Thanks for posting the link.
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@angel68 (138)
• United States
5 Apr 07
I am not sure about the orgin of it but i loved that as a kid. I remember me and my friends in a circle going around and around singing it and then falling to the ground.
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• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I also loved it but I think if somebody had told me it had something with do with a plague, then I might not have sung it.
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• Canada
5 Apr 07
No thats the one I remember growing-up .... And if you think about it its true ... What are your ideas ?
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I only ever sang the song while I was playing and I never paid much attention to the meaning of the words. I just got curious when my grandaughter mentioned it and she claims to have learned about it in school.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Apr 07
I was curious if that story was true because I had always heard that it was related to the Plague too, so I looked it up. The interpretation that it relates to the Black Plague seems to be a 20th century invention. There are 12 versions of the game/song and only one has any words that could even remotely be interpreted with any kind of disease. Seems that most experts in traditional folklore find it highly unlikely that it is refering to any of the many instances of Plague outbreaks in Europe. But who knows, nobody says a definite no or yes on the subject. Just that it's unlikely. My source for this info was wikipedia.org so you can read the page for yourself. It's kind of interesting.
2 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
Thanks craftcatcher. I have just read the info on wikipedia and now I am more confused than ever. It is very interesting and thanks for posting it.
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@Gemmygirl1 (2870)
• Australia
5 Apr 07
Nope i had no idea but when i ran it past my other hanf, he said he knew about that, i wonder why he did but i didn't have a clue. I have to admit that the only thing that came to mind when you asked why people say 'Bless You' when someome sneezes is from a Simpson's episode - where Bart sells his soul! Milhouse explains that when you sneeze it's your soul trying to escape & by saying 'God Bless You', that crams it back in there! Sorry :) That's the only thing that i could think of!
2 people like this
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
That's a good reason and I also thought that it was something like that but I just didn't know what. Thanks for responding.
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@Writerbob (572)
• United States
4 Apr 07
You are 100% correct about the very negative origin of this rhyme (as most children's fables and songs do have)
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• Ireland
5 Apr 07
Thank you Writerbob. What a clever little grandaughter I have. I myself had absolutely no idea as to where it originated from until she told me.
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@Talha22 (384)
• Pakistan
5 Apr 07
well i use to sung this song when i was in nursery and we also play on our lunch break we make cirle and grab each others hand and sung this song circling around.
@weemam (13377)
11 Apr 07
that is so funny because it was my 12 year old granddaughter who told me this to she is always telling me things she learns at school , I love too hear all of this kind of things m, it doesn't matter how old we get there is still something new to learn , and doesn't it make them feel so good when they tell us something we don't know lol xx
• Ireland
11 Apr 07
I think our grandchildren are learning a lot more in school now than we did. I agree with you, they seel to get very impressed when they tell us something that we know or may have forgotten. I am learning a lot from my grandchildren - they never cease to amaze me.
@seamonkey (1981)
• Ireland
9 Apr 07
In Ireland, it is usually sung thus: Ring around the 'rosies A pocketful of posies ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo (imitative of sneezing) We all fall down. It looks like yours is the Irish/UK version. Here are some additional verses you may or may not know: The King has sent his daughter To fetch a pail of water ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo We all fall down. The bird up on the steeple Sits high above the people ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo We all fall down. The cows are in the meadow Lying fast asleep ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo We all jump up again.
1 person likes this
• Ireland
9 Apr 07
It is so long ago since I sang them that I am not sure if I sang all of them. I definitely sang the one I posted and the first one in your response. I hadn't heard of the others until now so thanks for posting them.
@pitstop (7231)
• India
6 Apr 07
What!! I'm dumbstruck at the origin of this rhyme. I must have sung it and 'enacted' it scores of times in my childhood and never knew that it had such a sad story behind it. Are you sure??!!
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• Ireland
6 Apr 07
I was also dumbstruck when I learned about it. I had never heard about it until my grandaughter told me about it, then I asked my husband and he said he already knew this. I am not sure whether or not to believe it as there doesn't seem to any definite answer posted about it - just whant I have read here in the responses.
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@irisheyes (4373)
• United States
5 Apr 07
I think I heard this a long time ago. For awhile there I also heard that when you sneeze, your heart stops briefly and that in that respect it is similar to dying. I think that that was never true but a lot of people believed it. For whatever reason, I always thought saying God Bless You or Bless You was kind of old fashioned and sweet.
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• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I was inclined to think that it was something like that. It would certainly make sense. I agree that is is very sweet to say God Bless you and I am usually say this after somebody sneezes.
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@Eskimo (2317)
5 Apr 07
Yes I had heard this before, 'Bless You' id really short for 'God Bless You', as there was a very good chance that the Plague would kill you if you were sneezing. If someone in your house had the plague then you had to put a cross on your door as a warning, the Plague itself was pretty well erradicated by the 'Great Fire of London' which started on 2nd September 1666 and destroyed a large part of London.
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• Ireland
5 Apr 07
You are a mind of information as usual, Eskimo. I have seen the film of The Great Plague and you have just reminded me that I still have to watch The Great Fire of London. I bought this on dvd a few months ago. Thanks for commenting.
2 people like this
• Canada
5 Apr 07
That is indeed the correct origin of that rhyme. I sang it many times with my sister and friends as a child. Many of the famous nursery rhymes actually have very negative messages to them. Off the top of my head I can't remember any of them but if I remember what they are, I'll share some with you. I'm sure I have them on a file on my computer somewhere.
• Ireland
5 Apr 07
I would love to hear of them. This discussion has made me really curious and I would like to learn more about the rhymes which we used to sing as children.
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