This song can be played as a game with the object of pairing a boy and a girl from the group.

It's sung to the tune of "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush".

Nuts in May - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Game Instructions

In this song the children form up in two lines facing each other with space in between both lines. Each child holds his neighbor's hand. Each line advances and retreats singing (with one line singing verses 1, 3, & 5 and the other line singing verses 2 & 4).

Then one child from each line joins hands in the space between both lines. Each child tries to pull the other across a central line marked on the ground (or they can throw down a handkerchief). Whoever succeeds adds the captured player to his own side and the game goes on till all on the kids are on one side.

Nuts in May - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image

Comments

Lawrence Silverman sent us this email about the song, "Nuts in May" with the note, "I grew up (a long time ago) in the depths of rural England when many old customs now forgotten were still observed. I don't like to think of them being altogether forgotten...

About the children's song, 'Here we come gathering nuts in May', it tells of things long forgotten that were associated with May Day, There are, of course, no nuts to gather in May. They come in the autumn.

I believe the original was not nuts but knots and referred to the knots (bunches) of the mayflower tree (aka hawthorn) that are out at that time when it starts to get warm enough to put aside winter clothes. The mayflower is a symbol of spring and was gathered by young people in the woods on May Eve to make posies -knots of May- to give to the people in their village to commemorate the coming of new life, but particularly a member of the opposite sex they hoped to win as a bride or groom.

Like many May Day customs, which were originally fertility rites, it often got a bit out of hand. Some of the young folk would not come home till morning and not a few weddings would have to be solemnized in the following months. They were known as 'greenwood marriages' having been consummated in advance in the woods when the new growth was still green. This makes the original meaning of the song pretty clear."

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Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Nuts in May

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Lawrence Silverman for sharing info about this song!

Photo at Top: Wikipedia, cc by-sa 3.0.

Diagram of Game: "The traditional games of England, Scotland and Ireland : with tunes, singing rhymes and methods of playing according to the variants extant and recorded in different parts of the kingdom" by Gomme, Alice Bertha (1894).

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