Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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Nursery Rhymes, Family Traditions & Hand-Me-Down Phrases

Most people know that saying ‘Bless you’ after someone sneezes dates back to the 17th century – when sneezing was an early symptom of the bubonic plague, but what about those less well-known sayings and traditions? 


Every family has little habits or expressions which, while they may not have made it into the history books, nevertheless get passed along to the next generation.


Here are some from my house:


‘Lah-lah, chop-chop, kiss-kiss, see you in the morning.’

When Senior Management was a child, her mum - a lovely lady, sadly no longer with us - used to bid her kids goodnight with the words ‘Lah-lah, chop-chop, kiss-kiss, see you in the morning’ (just as her own mother had done). 

Since the day our own children were born, we’ve carried on that tradition in our house.


‘Got your keys?’

When her children got older, Senior Management-in-law got a new catchphrase, ‘Got your keys’. Even though she died before he was born, my son knows this one started with his grandmother.


My own mum preferred to say ‘Mind how you go’ when we left the house. She also insisted on asking if you had on clean underwear, ‘just in case you get run over’.


It weren’t me. It must have been the dog!

Also from the Gibbs side of the family, we have two of my old gran’s most common dinner time phrases, ‘There’s always room at the table for Mr. Manners’ and ‘It weren’t me. It must have been the dog’. I confess I never did understand this last one since, as far as I’m aware, grandma never had a pet.  


It’s not just phrases that live on. Lullabies and popular songs from our parent’s childhood get passed down to us.


Dance To Thy Daddy.

At weekends, my dad’s job was to bath the kids. Some of my earliest memories of him are from when he used to sing Dance To Thy Daddy (aka When the Boat Comes In) to me while I was in the bath.


I tried to pass this on, but I’m sorry to say that I expect this one to end with me – at least as far as my own descendants are concerned. Kids these days prefer a shower, and in any case my 15-yr-old son says it makes him uncomfortable and has asked me to stop.


Round and Round the Garden, like a teddy bear.

Not a song, but a nursery rhyme/tickling game. All my kids used to love this one.   I don’t know when it first started. However, teddy bears are relatively recent, so I shouldn’t think it’s been around for more than about sixty years or so (unless the words have changed from the original) 


How about you?


What sayings, nursery rhymes or family traditions do you remember from childhood?


Have you passed any on to your own children?

Tags: family

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