Can Someone Help with an Old German Nursery Rhyme?

I received this email today:

I’m wondering if you have info on an old German nursery rhyme? We just returned from a trip to Germany with my elderly mother (American, but German parents), who asked many people about it. Almost everyone knew of it, but no one could remember the words, most of them stopping, humorously enough, in the same place as my mother’s memory did, knowing only the first few lines.

It’s something about a cat sitting behind a warm stove, cleaning its face. My mother wrote down the first few lines, perhaps more phonetically than correctly, as follows:

Bitcha, batcha, beta
Hintern offen stehter

Schmickt sein steuffli
Schmicht sein shu

Any way of getting the complete and correct version of the words?



If anyone can help out with this nursery rhyme, please comment below or email me.



This article was posted on Saturday, June 23rd, 2007 at 1:03 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, German, German Nursery Rhymes, Germany, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Responses to “Can Someone Help with an Old German Nursery Rhyme?”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Hi BGB, hi all,hi Lisa,

    Know this one, goes like this:

    Pitsche Patsche Peter
    pitcha patcha Peter
    (pitcha patcha being fillers)

    hinterm Ofen steht er
    behind the oven he is standing

    flickt sein Schuh und schmiert sein Schuh
    mends his shoe and greases his shoe

    kommt die alte Katz dazu
    the old cat joins him

    frisst den Schuh und frisst den Schmer*
    eats the shoe and eats the ‘grease’

    frisst mir alle Teller leer.
    eats everything from the plates.

    Sung to the rhythm of ‘Bake, bake a cake’

    *Schmer being the pork’s hide that’s on bacon.
    T’was used to make the shoes shiny,and was also
    used on easter eggs for the same purpose.


    PS:My english isn’t that good – anyone feel free to
    correct any translation errors.
    PPS: Lisa, still haven’t got time to tab out ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’
    workin’ on it …

  2. Matthew Says:


    There seem to be 1000’s of variations ….

    According to your phonetics the 3rd line should read:

    flickt sein Stiefel, schmiert sein Schuh
    mends his boot and greases his shoe …


  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks Matthew!

    Here’s the tune for ‘Bake, bake a cake’


    Mama Lisa

  4. Brian Boden Says:

    Thanks to Matthew and Lisa for helping with my question! I’m passing the info on to my mother, too (including the tune). BGB

  5. Brian Boden Says:

    Good responses, thanks!

  6. Wayne Domke Says:

    My mother used to say a nursery rhyme that started out, Su Bett, su Bett ____________________aus su Bett. I can’t remember the middle, does someone know what this might be?

  7. Uta Says:

    Zu Bett, zu Bett, zu Bette geh’n,
    Und morgen wieder frueh auf steh’n,
    zu Bett, zu Bett, zu Bett!

    To bed, to bed, to bed (you) go,
    And tomorrow get up early again,
    To bed, to bed, to bed!

  8. Clea Says:

    Wayne, if you get this message, my dad used to tell us that poem too!

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