Ring Around the Rosy

--Informant Info--
Nationality: United States
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Anglese
Date of Performance/Collection: 28APR2015
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): None

Informant Background:

This informant is a senior at USC in the Naval ROTC program. The daughter of a navy chaplain, she spent a lot of her life traveling. Despite having to move, she still claims she had a every enjoyable childhood and made many lifelong friends because of it. She can easily recount the many games and stories her and her friends would play.

Informant’s Story:

“I’m sure everyone’s heard about ring around the rosy. You play it when you’re really little. We all grab hands, side hop to the left and sing the song. [me: can you sing it?] Haha, sure I guess. it goes ‘ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down,’ and when you say ‘we all fall down,’ everyone drops to the ground.”

Analyses:

This little game has been around for centuries and originates from 17th century England when the great plague was in full swing. It has two versions; the American “ring around the rosy” and British “ring a ring o’ roses” and is about the stages of an infected person. Both versions are identical but have a one line difference (besides the wording of the first line)

British

Ring a ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A tissue A tissue

We all fall down.

American

Ring a round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down.

When Someone had the plague, a common symptom was a rosy rash, and constant sneezing. Those living around the sick and dying would carry a pocket full of posies in order alleviate themselves from the smell of death. The English version refers to tissues, referring to the sneezing caused b the illness, but the American version is slightly darker, with a christian connotation. the phrase “ashes-to-ashes” comes from a verse in the bible and is used to burial rites. The final line of both is “we all fall down” meaning death. This is a prime example of how the morbidity of past is forgotten, yet that which it has created is not. By that I mean, it’s interesting how something so seemingly innocent and used by young children is about the gruesome death of thousands and no one seems to realize.