Ring around the Rosey

Posted by Gary on December 11, 2001

In Reply to: Ring around the Rosey posted by Bruce Kahl on December 11, 2001

: : : : Can anybody give the whole nine on "Ring around the Rosey"?

: : : : The archive on this site does have a few notations but they lead nowhere and then to a dead web site link.

: : : : I googled it and came up with the ol' standby of bubonic plague, blisters, posies to eliminate odors etc etc which I think is just hogwash. All the hits on Google seem to contain cuts and pastes of the same wash from the same hog.
: : : : Anybody?

: : :
: : : Can't say I've ever heard the expression "Ring around the Rosey" - it could be a New World saying.

: : Int he UK it's 'ring around the roses'. I too have never heard of 'rosey'.

: OK, I really thought this was an international childrens play song. So here goes: ( This is the USA NY Brooklyn Version )

: Picture 3 or 4 little kids all holding hands and walking in a circle while singing:

: "Ring around the Rosey
: A Pocketfull of Posies
: Ashes, Ashes
: We all fall down"

: Then they all fall down to the ground.

: The common belief or explanation of this song is about the plague.
: The "ring" was a type of skin infection which surrounded a "rosey" or roseola.
: "Posies" are flowers which infected people carried hidden in pockets to mask the odor of the oozing sores.
: "Ashes, Ashes" was the result of burning the bodies after they died of the plague.
: "We all fall down" as a reference to what happens when you finally die of the disease.
: Seems all too urbanlegendish.
: Anybody?

The beautiful Derbyshire village of Eyam, which is just a few miles from where I sit, is known locally as the plague village. There's a well-authenticated and fascinating history of the villager's survival through the Black Death years by a self-imposed quarantine. Most people around here believe that the rhyme originated in Eyam at that time but, although the rest of their story is true, that part isn't likely to be.

In short, the origin is uncertain.