Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bubonic Plague

Ring around the rosie,
a pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes,
we all fall down.
Hands clasped tightly together with bunches of other children, circling the playground, only to fall to the ground at the end.  Who hasn't heard that nursery rhyme?  But does it hold a hidden message about the Bubonic Plague?  Let's take a look at the disease and then we'll come back to the question.
The Bubonic Plague is a bacterial infection which kills about two-thirds of it's victims within four days.  Sound scary?  It is!
If a person gets bit by an infected flea, they may come down with plague.  Some of the best known signs and symptoms of plague are:
  • infection of the lymph glands
  • gangrene
  • chills
  • fever
  • muscle cramps
  • seizures
The most deadly outbreak of Bubonic Plague occurred when it hit Europe in 1347.  Daily life became more violent because of the mortality rate.  With the disease, there was an increase in warfare, crime and persecution. 
In the past, if a person was infected with plague, it was like a death sentence.  Fortunately, today we have these wonderful things called antibiotics!  People that suspect they may have come into contact with the disease should start a round of antibiotics within 24 hours of the first symptoms.
So back to our question: is the "Ring Around the Rosie" rhyme about the Bubonic Plague?  The answer: no.  The rhyme is simply a poem of unknown origin with no specific meaning.  Someone-at some point-decided to give the child's rhyme a dark meaning by tying it to the Bubonic Plague.
People often pay more attention to the things they fear.  Friends get together and talk about certain subjects and rumors start to fly.  Today it's extremely easy for this to happen.  The Internet breeds rumors faster than we ever thought possible!  The way around it: do research.  Make sure you have all the facts straight before you get on the horn to all your friends!


  1. I studied the Black Death in college and I always thought Ring Around the Rosie was about that. But now that I think of it, did I really learn that in class? And if I did, where did the teacher get his information? Rumors sure can be powerful!

    1. Yes, rumors are definitely powerful! I did have a teacher tell my class that Ring Around the Rosie was about Bubonic Plague. For a while, I just assumed it was. But I've looked it up myself a number of times and the majority of the answers I find agree that it's not.