The nursery rhyme of Little Miss Muffet dates back to the late 16th century. I have come across two possible meanings of the rhyme. One is simply about a young girl eating and being frightened by a bug. The other links the characters in the rhyme to real people prominent in 16th century English history.
In the first version, Little Miss Muffet was a small girl whose name was Patience Muffet. Her stepfather, Dr. Thomas Muffet (1553-1604) was a famous entomologist (someone who studies insects) and he wrote the first scientific catalogue of British Insects. Whilst eating her breakfast of curds and whey Little Miss Muffet was frightened by one of his spiders and ran away!
In the second version it is claimed that the nursery rhyme refers to Mary Queen of Scots (1542–87), who was said to have been frightened by the minister and religious reformer John Knox (1514–72). Some believe John Knox wanted to scare Mary off the throne due to religious differences.
Perhaps Little Miss Muffet was the first person with arachnophobia. Maybe she purposely spilt her curds and whey as the mixture of curdled milk and the acidic watery part of the milk just didn’t appeal to her. Possibly she blamed it on a spider to stay out of trouble. Spiders if swallowed, have supposedly been reported as curing various illnesses. Maybe the curds and whey gave her a stomach ache and she was being fed a spider to cure her stomach ache!
Previous posts: Where do nursery rhymes come from?
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Ring O' Roses
Politically correct nursery rhymes
At Musical Minis, we sing various songs and have fun with music to help your child develop. We aren't a stuffy music lesson but a chance for your children to enjoy themselves with music. Hope to see you there! Watch the video on the right for a good idea for how a session unfolds.
Photo by Flickr Seabeak