Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!
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Readers Are Asking...
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Tamela wrote asking for help with a Danish poem her father recited.  Here’s her email: Hi, I am wondering if you can help me at all.  I am searching for the full words to an old Scandinavian children’s poem that my Danish father used to tell us. It is about three children, girls, on one farm meeting...
Laura wrote asking for help with a Czech song.  Here’s her question: Dear Mama Lisa, I am trying to find out about an old Czech Song that our Uncle Bob would sing at the end of every visit as he would leave. He would put his finger on the top of his head and turn in a...
Gerard Ramos wrote asking for help with an Italian kids song from Sicily.  Here’s his email: Hi Lisa, I stumbled across your site searching for Italian children’s songs trying to find a song my great grandmother passed down through our family.  She was born in Sicily and moved to New Orleans when she was young.  No...
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Emanuela works in a school with young kids from different countries.  She asked if anyone could help with some questions about how children are cared for and disciplined in various cultures.  Here’s her letter: I have a special request to you and I think you can help me because you know people of many cultures.  In...
Guido wrote asking if anyone can help him find a childhood song that’s Russian.  Here’s his email: Hello! First of all, let me introduce myself: Guido Ruzzier, born in Trieste, Italy, in 1934. My father, Silvio Ruzzier, was born in Pirano, a small town near Trieste, in 1895: when he was born, and until the end of...
Ann-Marie wrote asking for help with an Italian song that she learnt in English.  Here’s her email… I remember a song from a record I had as a child about an old woman planting mushrooms in the moonlight. I remember the entire song, including the tune, but I cannot remember what the woman...
We received this email: There’s a traditional Armenian children’s song that goes "ts’nguluh m’nguluh tseev tseev…" It’s sung to children while pinching the top of the hand like a bird holding the hand with its feet. Any idea what this song is? Thanks so much. If anyone can help with this song, please comment below. Thanks! Mama Lisa
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I came across this YouTube video of kids in Nigeria playing two circle dance games.  The songs are quite fun!  The lyrics are in English.  English is the official language of Nigeria even though over 500 languages are spoken there.  You can find most of the lyrics below the video. Song #1   To play: Each kid...
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Who remembers the expression "I love you with a cherry on top"?  I remember saying it to my mother either to express love or to butter her up if I wanted something! You can make the expression even stronger, by adding more and more toppings as if your love was an ice cream sundae.  You can...
Jade wrote asking for help with an Italian song from Toritto.  Here’s her email: Hey. Love your site. I was looking for a song my nonna used to sing to me as a child. She was from Toritto, a small town outside Bari. It’s in dialect. I’m probably going to butcher the spelling but this is...
Marlena wrote asking for help with a Spanish kids song or lullaby.  Here’s her email: Hi,  I am looking for a song with the refrain "soongee, soongee, soongee" that is sung to infants.    The song is in Spanish.  My grandparents were originally from Mexico.  My family has sung that song to babies ever since I can...
In English, when you don’t understand something, you say "It’s all Greek to me".  In French you say either, "C’est de l’hébreu" (It’s in Hebrew) or "C’est du chinois" (It’s in Chinese).  In Spanish you say, "Me suena a chino" (Sounds like Chinese to me). It would be interesting to learn what other languages people...
Grant wrote asking for help with a rhyme he learnt from his grandmother.  Here’s his question: Hi, My grandmother’s parents were from Yugoslavia and she taught us a nursery rhyme from them which I would love to know the meaning. I am typing this as if the rhyme is in English. Any help would be great....
Debra wrote asking for help with a Yiddish rhyme: The following has been passed down through the ages (at least 150 years) by my mothers family, though we can only guess what the words mean now or the correct spelling of the words. I am hoping you may recognize it or be able to decipher it...
Jeff wrote asking for help with a Yiddish song.  Here’s his email: Hi, I grew up reciting a Yiddish rhyme or song where we pinched the skin on the back of each others hands and bobbed them up and down while saying something like (and I’m just writing what it sounded like): "Sipicle sipicle amadal, kimsimir and kamadal,...
Rachel wrote looking for help with an Italian song: My Italian grandmother used to sing to me a song that went something like. Peter peter pastela. canavane canela canela cususi felule mascule di...
Peter wrote asking for help with a song his grandmother sang him.  Here’s his email: Hello, I was hoping you’d be able to help with a song my grandmother sang to us when we were kids. It seems nobody can remember the whole thing but it starts like this: "There was a young man who lived on...
Kim wrote asking for help with a Russian song.  Here’s her email: I believe this is a Russian folk song I learned at school many years ago.  I am unable to remember the last verse, but I do remember the tune.  I would appreciate any help to fill in the blanks  I believe it ends with,...
Jen wrote to me looking for help with a childhood rhyme.  Here’s her email: I stumbled onto your site while looking for an answer to an age-old family question. When I was a little girl, my grandma and grandpa, both of whom were Portuguese, used to recite a rhyme to me in Portuguese while...
Bonnie wrote asking for help with a Swedish lullaby.  Here’s her email: Hello!  I just discovered your lovely site when looking for more words to a Swedish lullaby my father (85) tried to remember all his adult life.  We only have this little bit: Ro, ro sharen Placka biben baren Do you know any more?  We would love to...
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