We never knew nursery rhymes were so dark!
But our friends at Babble have found all the ugly secret origins for a number of your kids' favorite classics!
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater
Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well
Keeping his wife in a pumpkin shell? Against her will? Unlike most rhymes that come from England's dark history of royalty, this one got started in America. This is apparently a rhyme to warn women about cheating on their husbands. According to Brainz.org "Peter's wife was supposedly a harlot, and Peter's remedy for the situation was to kill her and hide her body in a giant pumpkin shell."
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row
This popular nursery rhyme isn't obviously horrifying but its origins are so dark I had to include it in the mix. This ain't no ditty about a sweet little girl and her garden. It's actually about the aforementioned Bloody Mary (about whom Three Blind Mice was written) who was so into executing people that the garden refers to growing cemeteries, as she filled them with Protestants. Silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture and the maiden was a device used to behead people. Nightie, night little ones!
For the rest of the 15 Creepy Rhymes For Kids and Their Disturbing Origins, make sure to check out Babble.com!