“Jack and Jill” is a traditional English nursery rhyme which dates back at least to the 18th century.
The phrase of the two names suggests, possibly, a romantically attached couple, as in the proverb “A good Jack makes a good Jill.”
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1. Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
2. Up Jack got and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.
3. When Jill came in how she did grin
To see Jack’s paper plaster;
Mother vexed did whip her next
For causing Jack’s disaster.
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A comedy titled Jack and Jill was performed at the Elizabethan court in 1567-68, and the phrase was used twice by Shakespeare: in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In fact, the phrase “Jack and Jill” was in use in England as early as the 16th century to simply indicate a boy and a girl.
The true origin of the rhyme is unknown, but there are various explanations without evidence, like the one by the 19th century American novelist and folk song collector S. Baring-Gould. The novelist supported the theory that the song makes reference to Hjúki and Bil, brother and sister respectively in Norse mythology, who were taken up from the earth by the moon as they were fetching water from the well.
However, in English-speaking countries the rhyme has traditionally been seen as a nonsense verse, particularly as the couple go up a hill to find water, which is often thought to be found at the bottom of hills. Vinegar and brown paper were a home cure used as a method to draw out bruises on the body.
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