Nuts in May (rhyme)

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For the play, see Nuts in May.
"Nuts in May"
Nursery rhyme
Published 1894–1898
Writer(s) Unknown

"Nuts in May" is a nursery rhyme often sung as a game with the aim of pairing a boy and girl from within the singers. It has a Roud index number of 6308.

Lyrics[edit]

Replace "[name]" by a boy's and a girl's name from within the group singing and select between him/her according to the gender of the first selected person. Some versions replace the phrase "On a cold and frosty morning," with "so early in the morning"

Here we go gathering nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
Here we go gathering nuts in May,
On a cold and frosty morning.
Who will you have for nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
Who will you have for nuts in May,
On a cold and frosty morning.
We'll have [name] for nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
We'll have [name] for nuts in May,
On a cold and frosty morning.
Who will you send to fetch him/her away,
Fetch him/her away, fetch him/her away,
Who will you send to fetch him/her away,
On a cold and frosty morning.
We'll send [name] to fetch him/her away,
Fetch him/her away, fetch him/her away,
We'll send [name] to fetch him/her away,
On a cold and frosty morning.

Origins[edit]

Conopodium majus with pignut depicted.
Hawthorn blossoms, possibly the original "knots of may."

The rhyme is first recorded by Alice Gomme in The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland (1894-8). It is a variant of "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush", with which it shares a tune and closing line.[1]

Nuts are not gathered in England in May. The lyrics are probably a corruption of "knots of may", referring to the blossom of the common hawthorn.[2][3] Another possible "nut" is the corm or tuber of Conopodium majus, commonly called pignut, groundnut etc. and easily found in May when the plant flowers. These "nuts" were commonly gathered by children as they grow under the ground sparsely, so they were not a viable food source to be gathered in quantities by adults.

Cultural references[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland vol i, (London, 1894), pp. 424-33.
  2. ^ "Ne'er cast a clout till May be out", Phrases.org.uk.
  3. ^ Suzi Dent, lexicographer of the Oxford English Dictionary on "Countdown", March 15, 2017.