“Cinderella dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss a fellow, made a mistake, and kissed a snake, how many doctors will it take? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…”
This is a song one sings while jump-roping. According to my informant, you’re supposed to keep counting for as many jumps as the participant is able to go for before getting caught up in the rope or stopping. My informant heard of this particular jump rope song from her neighbor at a young age, and would sing it both with her as well as with other friends at school. She says it’s just a silly rhyming song, and that she’s unsure of how to analyze it any further. My informant says she remembers other jump rope songs she chanted as a child, but this is the only one she can remember in full due to its relative brevity.
When I heard my informant start talking about this particular jump-roping song, I immediately remembered also learning it in my childhood. However interesting enough, I only learned the song as a stand-alone song, and didn’t realize that it was associated with jump roping. Since the number “eight” rhymes with the previous lines of “take” and “snake,” I thought the counting was just a part of the song itself. But upon learning that my informant used it as a jump-roping song, the song itself immediately made a lot more sense.
NF (21) is a Norwegian-American, born and raised in Trondheim, Norway before coming to Colorado for middle school. She is fluent in Norwegian and English, is a trained dancer, and presently studies screenwriting and acting at the University of Southern California.
Context of Performance
The informant, NF, sits in her bedroom opposite the collector, BK, her friend and classmate.
NF: So this is… a Norwegian fairytale that I first became familiar with because it was in a Norwegian fairytale book that was read to me when I was young. But, it was also turned into a movie. And it’s a really old movie, it’s gotta be claymation. And it’s bizarre, and it’s kind of creepy, but just seeing the poster of that movie, I was like “oh yeah, I definitely watched this movie a ton when I was a kid.” It’s still very nostalgic and it triggers a lot of memories. So fairytale-turned-movie.
NF: It’s called… and I can spell this out for you later, but’s called Askeladden som kappåt med trollet. Which means… Askeladden is the main character’s name, and it pretty much means “Ash-Boy.” Like Cinderella but he’s a boy. And then som kappåt med trollet which means “who fought the troll” [informant corrects this title later, see Collector’s Reflection]. Cuz trolls are like huge figures in all of Norwegian fairy tales. We have troll statues everywhere. It’s a big part of the culture. So this is what I remember from it.
NF: It’s about this boy, who has two older brothers. And he’s the smaller, younger one. So he’s kind of confined to just cleaning the house and sitting by the hearth. You know, Cinderella again. And I think… the dad needs wood… for the fire? So he sends out the oldest son to go chop down a tree. And when the first son goes he hears a troll that goes like, you know, “You’re chopping down the trees in my forest! I’ll eat you!” And he goes, “Oh no!” and he runs home. So the dad says, “You’re a wimp.” And he sends out the second son and he is a wimp too. He encounters the troll and comes running back.
NF: So finally, the youngest son is like, “I’ll go!” And they’re like, “Haha sure you will.” So he packs a little lunch, and he goes out, and he hears the troll. And I think— I really hope this is right because if I make this up it’s bizarre— but I think he takes out a block of cheese. And he squeezes it. And you know sometimes cheese has liquid in it? So the liquid comes out and so he’s looking at this troll and he’s like, “No, you’re gonna chop down this tree or I’ll hurt you! And this is a white rock.” So he pretends the cheese is a rock and that he’s capable of drawing water from stone. But it’s cheese. So basically he terrifies the troll, and the troll is like, “No don’t hurt me! I’ll do whatever you want.” So he basically gets the troll to cut down all this timber and to go fetch water and all these things that he is supposed to do himself.
NF: Finally, for whatever reason, they end up at the troll’s house It’s probably like the sun’s going down, it’s late, the troll lives closer than the little boy so he’s like, “Why don’t you come back to my place?” Back to the troll’s place. And the boy has now scared the bejeezus out of the troll. So he has the troll doing his bidding. And what he does, is they’re eating porridge. I think it’s porridge, because porridge is a very popular, traditional cultural food in Norway. They’re eating porridge, and somehow the kid makes it seem like he’s eating an endless amount of porridge. He probably cuts a hole in the bowl, or does something bizarre that I can’t remember. But he eats so much porridge, supposedly, and he forces the troll to keep up with him. It’s basically a masculinity battle. He’s like, “Oh you’re a wuss! You can’t eat as much as I can? Keep up!” And the troll becomes so full that he can’t move. So he passes out, and the young boy runs away. He gets away and he has, you know, the timber for his family.
NF: So yeah, that was a very popular story. And I think that’s how it ends.
Askeladden som kappåt med trollet actually translates to “Askeladden, who had an eating match with the troll.” The story seems to follow the traditional “rule of threes,” where two failed attempts precede the final, successful attempt. In this case, that means Askeladden’s two brothers, who failed to beat the troll, and Askeladden himself. Many tales include this three-part structure, including another performance by the informant NF. For the tale Reve-enka, please visit this link:________.
Below is the poster of the claymation film adaptation that NF was familiar with growing up.
This is a story of
Kong-Ji and Pat-Ji. It is a Korean version of Cinderella.
Kong-Ji was a
younger living with her dad in a small village. When she was young, her mother
died and his dad brought in a new mother. The stepmother had a daughter called Pat-Ji.
Whenever Kong-Ji’s dad wasn’t present, her stepmother and Pat-Ji treated her
horribly and forced her to chores.
One day, there was
a feast held in the village to celebrate the governor’s son’s birthday and everyone
was invited. Kong-Ji wanted to go but her stepmother and Pat-Ji told her that
she had to finish all her chores if she wanted to go. The job was to fill a
broken jar full of water, pull the grass in the fields with insufficient tools.
After she finished these chores, if she could weave her own clothing, then she could
go to the feast.
filling the jar but noticed that it was impossible because it kept spilling
out. Then, a toad appeared and filled the crack in the jar with his body to help
her fill the jar.
Next, she had to
plow the field and pull grass, but her hoe was made from wood instead of metal.
Whenever she tried to use it, it would break, and Kong-Ji’s hands were full of
cuts. A bull appeared and helped her plow the field. With the bull’s help, she
was able to plow through the whole field.
Her next task was
to weave clothing. A fairy appeared and helped her weave the clothing and Kong-Ji
was able to get the work done a lot faster. The fairy made a beautiful garment
and Kong-Ji was able to wear it to the feast and meet the governor’s son.
The governor’s son fell
in love with Kong-Ji but she had to instantly leave when she spotted her
stepmother and Pat-Ji who wanted to know the mysterious woman the governor’s
son was taken by. While fleeing, she shed a pair of her shoes and the governor’s
son wandered all around the village looking for the owner of the shoe until she
Kong-Ji and the
governor’s son got married and punished the stepmother and Pat-Ji.
This story is a
popular children’s story in Korea. I had heard about it when I was younger, but
this particular collection was translation of a version my friend told me
about. She said she knew about this piece from hearing it from her own parents
when she was younger. She doesn’t know if there are any meaning behind the story
or if she learned anything from it. She says it’s just a story that she heard
when she was younger.
This was collected
from a casual conversation with a friend form Korea, who I asked about Korean
children’s stories she heard about when she was younger.
Just like there’s Cinderella in Western cultures, Korea has their own variation of the story of an evil stepmother and her daughter who treats the adopted daughter horribly. I think this just shows that different cultures and countries have their own folk stories they tell children. Just as there are differences in the German and French version of Cinderella, Korea has their own version of Cinderella in the form of Kong-Ji and Pat-Ji. While the name isn’t the same, the premise is the same and it is a testament to the common folklore tropes in many cultures.
Annotation: For another version of this tale, refer to
Kang, Sungsook. “Kongjwi and Patjwi.” Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture, National Folk Museum of Korea, folkency.nfm.go.kr/en/topic/detail/5996.
The informant use to sing this song while playing double dutch jump rope with her girl friends at recess. She said she originally learned the song from her mother but her friends had already heard of it before she brought it up to them. They would sing the song and then count how many times the girl playing double dutch could jump over the rope.
The informant is a student in Southern California and grew up Laguna Beach where she attended a public school in a nice area.
At first glance, this song seems like a catchy jingle to play jump rope to, but this rhyme has much deeper historical, misogynistic roots. The jingle was originally created to discourage young girls from being sexually promiscuous. Because Cinderella “kissed a fella,” she was attacked by a snake. Additionally, the song embodies this underlying concept that people may not always be what they seem. When Cinderella thought she was kissing a man, she was actually kissing a snake. Snakes are typically representative of a deceptive trickster in folklore. In the Judeo-Christian faith, for example, the snake tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit.
Megan is a sophomore in my french class. I’ve known her for a year. She’s a sweet, very soft spoken intelligent girl. She loves horseback riding. She’s majoring in creative writing and wants to be a screenwriter for Pixar one day.
When I first introduced the topic folklore and then mentioned childhood rhymes, riddles, and songs, one of the first things that popped into her head was this song:
“Cinder-ella, dressed in yell-ah
Went upstairs, to kiss, a fell-ah
Made a mis-take, and kissed a snake
Came downstairs, with ah belly-ache
How Many doooctors did-it-take
It’s a song girls sing when they’re jumping rope. I remember all the different variations of this form of folklore:
Cinderella, dressed in green,
Went upstairs to eat ice cream.
How many spoonfuls did she eat?
One, two, three
Cinderella, dressed in brown
Went upstairs to make a gown
How many stitches did she use?
One, two, three
Analysis: One of the more fun parts about being a girl is being able to sing silly things about the toys and characters you love without seeming too odd. Boys aspire to be astronauts, cowboys, police officers, doctors, chefs and more. But all little girls will tell you at least once in their lifetime that they want to be a princess. Whether they were 8 years old and playing on the playground or a 43 year old mother who only wishes to be spoiled and pampered by her prince. Songs like this play into our culture as a reminder that we can still have our imagination while understanding the truth; reality. Yes, we may not be princesses, so let’s make a little fun of Cinderella or whomever. It also keeps the character alive. While slightly teasing the character, little girls bring the princess to the playground and engulf themselves in an environment where they can run around their own princesses.