If you really listen to some nursery rhymes, they sound more dark and disturbing rather than light cheery. Ring Around the Rosy a.k.a. Ring a Ring o' Roses is believed to be about the Bubonic Plague. If you examine each line, it kind of makes sense.
"Ring Around the Rosy" represented the skin lesions that appeared as a bright red ulcerated spot surrounded by a ring. The next line, "Pocket full of Posies", had more to do with superstitions than anything else. Back then, people burned, carried, or rubbed down their houses with all kinds of herbs. However, it is believed doctors carried around posies. They even filled the masks they wore with it.
There are some variations in the third line. Some say "Ashes Ashes" which is believed to refer to the burning of bodies. "Husha Husha" represented the quiet in towns due to death or desertion of three-quarters of the population. "Tishoo Tishoo" is suppose to mimic the sound of sneezing. However, this symptom wasn't common for the plague. "We All Fall Down" is an allusion to the depopulation of Europe or merely death.
This explanation of its origins could be true, right? The skeptics side sounds more plausible. One major discrepancy involves the date in which the rhyme first appeared. Some think it dates back as far as the 14th Century, but the first print version was discovered in 1881 Mother Goose version.
If it didn't symbolize the plague, then what was its meaning. Some folklorist believe it was a rhyme developed by children as a way to get around the prohibition of dance by the Protestants in the 19th Century. Play parties were organized where kids would play ring games. The words of the rhyme meant just what they said. "Ring Around the Rosy" symbolized the ring of children. "Husha Husha" is where they would fall silent. "We All Fall Down" is where they would all fall down.
If the second theory isn't more truer than the first then why would we continue to pass down a nursery rhyme about the plague?