“Oh Shenanigah Dah” Song

“Oh, shenanigah dah, let’s play the guitar, go to the bazaar, ha ha ha ha

Oh shenanigah dah, let’s play the guitar, go to the bazaar, ha ha ha ha

Let’s go on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday…

Oh, shenanigah dah…”


The informant is a 95-year old woman, who was raised in the Netherlands and then moved to California with her husband and daughter after surviving the Holocaust. She was raised in a upper middle class Jewish family, attended school through her adolescence, but never attended any school past that. She survived the Holocaust hiding in the attic of a gentile woman. The “Shenanigah Dah” song is one she told me she learned from her aunt and one she always sang with me when I would come visit her. The informant sings this song in a playful manner, typically at times of leisure (for instance: during “coffee” a sort-of Dutch ritual everyday around 11 am where family gets together, drinks coffee, eats cookies, and chats.



The nature of this song—a very cheery, up tempo melody, repetitive nature, and simple lyrics—along with the setting in which it is sung, it seems that this song is a reflection of the cyclical nature of time; it gestures to the passing of the days in a cyclical fashion and in its lyrics and melodies, is an invitation of sorts to the listener to join the singer in leisure time.


In searching for more information on this song, I found several references to Dutch Grandmother songs; I love the idea that there is a whole genre of songs designated to grandmas (Omas, in Dutch) for singing with grandchildren. While I discovered this sub genre of folk music, I couldn’t find anything online about the song I grew up singing with my Oma. However, what I find really curious about my Oma singing this song is that it is in English, and doesn’t seem very much like a song that is Dutch in origin. When I asked my mom, she could remember my Oma singing it to her as well, but couldn’t think of a Dutch translation or trace wher my Oma might have gotten it.

This seems like a sort of folklore crossover: my Oma practiced the Dutch custom of singing grandmother songs with one of her main songs being an English one.