Mulberry Bush


Mulberry Bush
   There can be few English people who do not know at least the chorus and tune of the children's *singing game, 'Here we go round the mulberry bush'. The children hold hands in a ring and dance or walk round to this chorus, then stand still, drop hands, and carry out the actions prescribed by the verses: 'This is the way we wash our hands . . .', or 'This is the way we iron our clothes . . .', each describing an element of everyday domestic life. It is presumably the catchy tune (also known as 'Nuts in May' and 'Nancy Dawson') and simple repetitive form, which explain its widespread popularity in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries, but it is played nowadays almost exclusively by young children taught by adults. The game was first mentioned in the 1820s (in Scotland), and turns up regularly in collections of children's games, and some earlier versions have 'gooseberry', 'ivy', or 'holly' bush.
   ■ Gomme, 1894: i. 404-7; Opie and opie, 1985: 286-92.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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