Ring a Ring o' Roses

  • "Ring a Ring o' Roses" or "Ring Around the Rosie" is a playground singing game. It first appeared in print in 1881, but it is reported that a version was already being sung to the current tune in the 1790s and similar rhymes are known from across Europe.
  • Urban legend says the song originally described the bubonic plague in 1347 or the Great Plague of London in 1655. One of the symptoms was a red ‘rosey’ rash, and sneezing as it goes in the song, and the falling down bit is what happened to people that had caught the disease.  Poises, were herbs which people carried in their pockets which they believed protected them against the deadly plague. However folklorists reject this idea of associating the song with the plague.
  • To play the game you need two or more people. Everyone who is playing the game joins hands, and forms a circle. Everyone walks around in the circle in the same direction. As everyone walks they sing this song: Ring a Ring o’roses / Pocket full of poises / atishoo, atishoo, / We all fall down! When the word "down" is sung, everyone falls to the ground!
  • Then this song is sung: When our mother calls us / We all jump up! / And everyone jumps up in the air!  

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