Aboot the Merry-Matanzie - Scottish Children's Songs - Scotland - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


*merry-matanzie = expression in girls' singing game
fa = fall
maun = must

Note by Dian Montgomerie : The Merry-Matanzie is probably a nonsense word for whatever is in the centre of a circle formed for singing and dancing - not only a Scottish tradition! People dance round a tree, a bush ("Here we go round the mulberry bush) a person ("The farmer's in his den") a Maypole, or even "the world" - often with an ancient meaning of life. A "jing-a-ring" or a "jingo-ring" is played by children (and adults!) all over the world, singing songs as they join hands and dance in a circle. There are lots of versions of this, in some of them the children dance until they "all fall down" ("Ring a Ring o' Roses"). There is no one specific game for this term. One meaning given says that the merry-matanzie is used by girls dancing. There is almost certainly a deep and distant fertility meaning, now lost. Often the game is choosing a mate by one child in the centre finding someone from the circle.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Ernestine Shargool for contributing this song and to Monique Palomares for translating it. The illustration is from A Book for Bairns and Big Folk, Children's Rhymes, Games, Songs, and Stories (1904), by Robert Ford.

Thanks so much!