A couple of nights ago, I got up during the night (1 a.m.) to address the call of nature (an old lady thing) and thought that we had left a light on outside. Or maybe my husband’s truck had the interior light on inside the cab. I peeked out the window and the moon was shining as bright as day. I remember when I was small we had a clear, bright red phonograph record of children’s songs and this one was on it. Whenever I see the moon so bright, I sing this in my head. Does anyone else remember this song? The following is from Wikipedia.
The most common versions of the rhyme are very similar to that collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century:
Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A halfpenny roll will serve us all.
You find milk, and I’ll find flour,
And we’ll have a pudding in half an hour.
Other versions often put boys before girls in the opening line.
The verse may date back to the time when children were expected to work during the daylight hours, and play was reserved for late in the evening. The first two lines at least appeared in dance books (1708, 1719, 1728), satires (1709, 1725), and a political broadside (1711). It appeared in the earliest extant collection of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book published in London around 1744. The 1744 version included the first six lines.
Well, I guess the moonlight always makes me want to go out and dance in it. However, it was the middle of the night and the temperature was about 35F. I declined and tottered off to the WC.
We have had several consecutive nights of bright moonlight. I usually use the lightness of the bedroom windows to tell me if it is about time to get up. The moonlight confuses that. Midnight moonlight and the gloaming of 6:30 a.m. look about the same these days. I went back to bed and went to sleep.
Occasionally when I am driving home at night through the area where I live, which has very straight roads, if the moon is shining bright as day, I turn off my headlights and go home by moonlight. So far I haven’t alarmed anyone coming from the opposite direction. Can you imagine me turning on my headlights when they didn’t know anyone was there?
This full moon is particularly interesting as it is the Lantern of the Lunar New Year. The fifteenth day of the New Year. New Year ’s Day is always the dark of the moon. Then as the moon grows in size various celebrations happen over a two week period. Example: New Year’s Eve, eat jiaozi (dumpling with pork and green onion) and visit with family. Days one through five you should not take anything from your house, even corpses. It is bad luck and you will lose your wealth. We went traveling in Hunan Provence on the fifth day and I commented to my Chinese student “Look at all the funeral processions. Was there a major disaster or accident?” He replied that it was the fifth day. The people who had died after the New Year could now be buried. There was also a slightly larger number of deaths after the new year as people try to stay alive just one more year and succumb shortly after.
Second day, married women visit their parents. This is something that doesn’t always happen as the husband’s parents take precedence once you are married. The seventh day is considered the birthday of all the common class people. They will all celebrate this day. Important figures have birthdays on their day of birth. On the thirteenth day some families fast or eat reduced amounts of vegetarian foods because they have been feasting for twelve days. Day fourteen is a preparation day for the Lantern Festival when new lanterns will appear fresh, and red in front of shops and houses.
Lantern day is celebrated by gifts of oranges. When we lived there, small mandarin orange trees covered with oranges on their branches and about three to four feet tall were given as gifts to family. Sweet rice balls are eaten to commemorate the full moon. Tāngyuán, a soup of round balls is also served. The “ruler of heaven’s” birthday is supposed to be on the fifteenth day. He is responsible for good luck, good fortune and wealth.
So dancing in the moonlight is probably a good thing. Even though I want to do it now, I will probably wait until we are sleeping outside this summer when dancing in my nightgown won’t pose issues of hypothermia.
Happy New Year.