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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Children's Games

The ancient British game played by children "Ring-a-ring o' roses" is said to be a macabre parody on the horrors of the Black Death, or plague.

In the mid nineteenth century English children were playing a game where they held hands and danced in a ring whilst singing the refrain “here we go round the mulberry bush.” There was a similar game with the lyrics “Here we go round the bramble bush.” The bramble bush may be an earlier version, possibly changed because of the difficulty of the alliteration, since mulberries do not grow on bushes.

The game “Chinese whispers” was first played by Victorian children at parties. In this game children, seated in a circle, whispered a message to each other until it arrives back at the person who started, usually changed out of all recognition. It was called “Chinese” because of the exotic connotations, the difficulty of the language and because the process of whispering sounded reminiscent of the language when spoken.

Xu Chong Wei won history's largest game of musical chairs in Singapore in 1989. The game began at the Anglo-Chinese school with 8,238 players.

Source Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Nigel Rees

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