The children’s song “Pat-a-Cake”, also known as “Patty Cake”, is one of the most widely known and oldest surviving English Nursery Rhymes, sung by millions of children worldwide every day. It evolved into a child’s game between two participants who gently clap the palms of their hands together and then against each other’s palms in a rhythmic beat accompanied by the words of the nursery rhyme. Virtually everyone who grew up in the Western world was taught this song at some time or another, or if you have kids, you probably came across it when looking to entertain your own children. You can learn how to sing online.
Oddly enough, even though it is a very simple nursery rhyme, its history is pretty interesting and has even been logged into archives of The National Poetry Foundation alongside masterpieces of literature by Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein, and Emily Dickinson. According to the foundation, the official author of the Patty Cake song is Mother Goose. Whether Mother Goose was a real person or a fictitious character created to write children’s jingles, we can only speculate as we may never know.
Nevertheless, there are a few theories regarding who authored the famous nursery rhyme. One is held by literary historians who believe that Mother Goose was the widow of Isaac Goose from Boston who lived in the 17th century. Her name was Elizabeth Foster Goose and apparently, she was known as Mary Goose from Boston.
Her American origin is, however, disputed by other historians as noted in The National Poetry Foundation who claim that the rhyme originated in French culture and can be accredited to ‘mere l’oye’ or ‘mere oye’ meaning mother goose in French.
According to LA Weekly, the Patty Cake song was not written by Mother Goose at all but rather it was one of the songs written in 1698 for the Thomas d d’Urfey play, ‘The Campaigners’. The article contends that it wasn’t until 1765 that the mysterious ‘Mother Goose’ was said to have published her nursery rhyme.
Regardless of its origins, the nursery rhyme is undoubtedly a hit that has survived for hundreds of years. To pay homage to the humble ‘Patty Cake’ song, here are some interesting things about the song that you may not know:
– There is no such thing as a patty cake in the history of cuisine and you will not find it for sale in a bakery. However, any cake can be turned into a ‘patty cake’ for a special occasion such as a child’s birthday party and it is up to each child’s imagination to conjure up what he or she thinks it may look like when playing the game.
– When the lyrics say that the baker should ‘mark it with a B for Baby and me’ you can substitute the letter B for the first initial of your child’s name.
– An English publisher of child’s literature named John Newbery helped bring the song to the masses by putting the melody to the nursery rhyme into print.
– The song is used by many children’s entertainment programs. For example, you will find a cute version of it performed by the Teletubbies which kids watch over and over again all over the world.
– If you do a little research you will find epic versions of the patty cake song performed by musical groups as well as individual singers.
– In addition to being a famous nursery rhyme, it has evolved into a clapping game loved by children and parents alike as it is easy to master but can also involve intricate criss-cross patterns that take the game to an entirely new level for older children.
‘Patty Cake’ is a charming, old-school nursery rhyme and clapping game that can be enjoyed by all ages from tiny tots to teenagers. However, the lyrics have been criticized for encouraging children to forget their manners of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and for being demanding of the baker.