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Pop Goes The Weasel Day

Pop Goes the Weasel Day celebrates the popular nursery rhyme, "Pop Goes the Weasel." The rhyme's meaning and origin are debated, and there are various American and English versions of it. It was first published in 1850, in America, as a dance song titled "Pop goes the Weasel for Fun and Frolic." It was referred to as an English dance—meaning England is probably where it originated from. It is likely that an oral form of the nursery rhyme existed there long before 1850.

The dance "Pop goes the Weasel" was popular in England in the 1850s. Done on stage and in dance-halls, it didn't have lyrics beyond the shouting out of "Pop goes the weasel." More lyrics were soon added, but they weren't solidified in Britain and took on various forms in America as well.

The most basic and common lyrics in England were as follows:

Half a pound of tuppeny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That's the way the money goes
Pop! goes the weasel

Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop! goes the weasel

A common American verse, which was first printed in 1914, is as follows:

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock, (or The monkey stopped to scratch his nose, or The monkey fell down and oh what a sound)
Pop! goes the weasel

One theory takes the lyrics literally, saying the song is about weasels popping their heads up—something they do naturally when they are disturbed. Weasel may also be a play on the word "whistle." Another theory says that the song is about pawning a suit, where "pop" is the word for pawn, and "weasel" for suit. There are many other theories, and it is even possible that at the height of the dance craze in the 1850s, people didn't know what it meant.

Shortly after the dance gained popularity, by at least 1856, the phrase "Pop goes the weasel" began taking on its own meaning apart from the song. It came to indicate that something had happened "just like that." By the late nineteenth century, in Britain, the rhyme started being used to play a game that was similar to musical chairs.

How to Observe Pop Goes The Weasel Day

Celebrate Pop Goes the Weasel Day by singing one of many versions of "Pop Goes the Weasel." There are various versions of the rhyme that could be sung. You also could read or sing various other nursery rhymes on the day.

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