Why Are Children’s Nursey Rhymes So Creepy?

We aren’t going to hear things like “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary,” “London Bridge is Falling Down,” or “Ring Around the Rosie” in the same way again.

If you did not know about the true origins of a number of popular nursery rhymes, music essayist Noah Lefevre of Polyphonic is here to provide some game-changing information.

Don’t worry, though. We were today years old when we learned about the sinister origins of these songs as well. Now that we think about it, the subject matter on many of them is creepier than we realized initially.

Photo: YouTube/Polyphonic

LeFevre takes the time to walk us through a number of nursery rhymes that we had never really thought about in this way before. We are never going to hear songs like “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary,” “London Bridge is Falling Down,” or “Ring Around the Rosie” in the same way ever again. These nursery rhymes do not exactly align with the history that we were taught, that is for certain.

Instead, these songs tend to take their cues from folklore and literature. Of course, there is a fair amount of exaggeration that takes place in these instances and this is something that Noah is more than happy to cover in this clip. “While these dark histories might be exaggerated they’re likely born out of a kernel of truth. Plenty of nursery rhymes undoubtedly do have meanings that have been lost to us today and that’s because of the way nursery rhymes operate as traditions of folklore,” LeFavre shares.

Photo: YouTube/Polyphonic

He also goes on to explain the cultural differences that have manifested themselves over the past few decades. The concept of childhood has changed significantly since these nursery rhymes were written and it definitely shows in the subject matter.

“Nursery rhymes are meant to be simple and playful. They’re meant to reinforce the cultural roles that children have in society, so when they’re removed from this context and inverted put into situations that reflect darkness and the threat of violence the effect can be chilling. It’s worth noting that this conception of children as being pure and innocent is actually a relatively modern invention. For a lot of human history children were treated a lot more like small adults,” LeFavre continues.

Photo: YouTube/Polyphonic

We had no idea that things had shifted so much. If you are anything like us, you thought that children were always treated in a sweet and innocent manner. At least today’s kids are typically unaware of the very dark overtones that these nursery rhymes tend to have.

We loved this video and we are sure that you are going to as well: