“Ring A Ring of Roses

A pocket full of posies

A-tish-oo, a-tish-oo

We all fall down”


This rhyme was first recorded in 1881, even though some believe it has Pagan origins.

There are different opinions on what it really relates too but the majority favour it refers to the Great Plague of London in 1665, even though this was two centuries earlier. Or maybe the Black Death that cursed Europe prior to this.

The Bubonic Plague killed fifteen percent of the British population and was only brought into check in London due to the Fire of London in 1666.

The ‘ring of rosies’, being the circular welt of red raised skin formed by the Bubonic plague’s boils. The ‘pocket full of posies’ the bag of highly scented herbs people carried around with them to quell the stink of the disease, and hopeful protection from the epidemic. The sneezing and coughing in ‘atishoo, atishoo’ being the final symptoms of the infected victims until they then ‘all fall down’ dead.

The game is played with a group of children forming a ring – sometimes with another child in the center of the ring. The children dance around singing the song. When the last line is recited the children all fall over. The last one to go down becomes the center of the ring as they sing and dance once more.






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