Posted by Dr. Jones on January 01, 2000
In Reply to: Heavy, heavy hangover thy poor head posted by R on December 30, 1999
: When I was a child every time a birthday was celebrated in our neighborhood, the birthday child would sit on a chair. The guests would take turns standing behind them and chant the rhyme, "Heavy, heavy hangover thy poor head, what do you wish this person with a bump on the head?" and as they said the word "bump" they would bonk the birthday child on the head with the gift they had brought. The birthday child would then 'wish' the giver something, usually something unattainable, like a horse or a swimming pool and proceed to open the gift.
: We performed this ritual all the time and only when I went away to college did I find it was considered strange. in fact, I have never found any one else who has even heard of a similar tradition.
: any suggestions as the origin of this phrase and ritual?
I believe the custom died out in affluent countries when the size and weight of gifts increased and the custom was found to cause unacceptable collateral damage to the upcoming generation of gift recipients.
It did, however, have a Darwinian purpose in prehistoric times, when clubs and similar weapons were handed out as gifts and the thin skulls of the weakest were crushed whilst the thick headed survived to perpetuate the custom: some of these survivors are with us to this very day.