So I'm listening to Michael Feldman's "What do you know" and. . .

. . . . he was quoting from a book of little-known facts that the “hokey pokey” song is derived from the anti-Catholic “hocus pocus” thing where certain folks ridicule the Catholic mass.

I never did like that song.

Now I’m not whining, mind you, I’m just reporting.

Yet another good reason not to use it at Youth Group. (I hate it, too!!)

Is there anyone who actually likes it? :shrug:

If it is true, I kinda like it:

The Hokey-Pokey :dancing: really *is *“what it’s all about”! :bounce:


:rotfl: My son laughed himself silly with this song/dance when he was two. So maybe it’s good for two-year-olds and grown-ups dancing with that population.

Personally, I prefer the chicken dance. “I don’t wanna be a chicken, I don’t wanna be a duck, so I’ll shake my [bottom].” :eek:


I love the chicked dance! I go to Oktoberfest every year to get my fix. I also love “What Do You Know”, consistenty hilarious. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t think there’s anything sinister about the hokey-pokey. That being said, I’ve always thought is was just stupid. Little kids do like it, though. Roanoker

Evidently you’ve never seen The X-Files episode that features the Hokey Pokey prominently. shudder

The idea that “hocus pocus” is a mockery of the words of consecration is speculation or folk etymology.

hocus-pocus 1624, Hocas Pocas, common name of a magician or juggler, a sham-Latin invocation used in tricks, probably based on a perversion of the sacramental blessing from the Mass, Hoc est corpus meum “This is my body.” The first to make this speculation on its origin apparently was Eng. prelate John Tillotson (1630-1694).“I will speak of one man … that went about in King James his time … who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery.” [Thomas Ady, “A Candle in the Dark,” 1655]

Origin of the word “Hoax” (Etymology)

The word hoax first came into popular use sometime in the middle to late eighteenth century. It is thought to have been a contraction of the word hocus from the conjuror’s term hocus pocus. The term hocus pocus itself first appeared in the early seventeenth century. It might have derived from the assumed name of a conjuror in the time of King James who called himself ‘The Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus’ because with the performance of every trick he used to call out the nonsense phrase, “Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo” (later magicians were known to use the phrase “Hax pax max deus adimax”). This phrase was itself probably an imitation (or mockery) of the phrase used by priests of the Church of Rome when they performed the act of transubstantiation, “hoc est corpus”.

Magicians probably used any Latin phrases (or corruptions thereof) that they were familiar with to dazzle the marks.

I also would not take Michael Feldman’s word that the song is based on the phrase “hocus pocus”.

Michael is a funny guy, and ever on the look-out for something new for his audience. But he may have overreached on this one.

A couple of websites sites suggested that the phrase “hokey-pokey” entered English by referring to a inferior grade of ice cream sold by street vendors:

It’s commonly said that the name of the comestible comes from the cry of the sellers, either Gelati, ecco un poco! (“ice cream, here’s a little!”) or O che poco! (“O how little!”, meaning it was cheap rather than insufficient in quantity — its price was a penny, both in Britain and the US, and led to the cry Hokey-pokey, penny a lump!). We can’t be sure this is where the name came from, but the sudden appearance of the same term within such a narrow space of time 3000 miles apart might suggest that it was brought by the Italians themselves.

But there’s another school of thought (there so often is, you may have noticed). Hokey-pokey already had another meaning, that of deception, cheating or underhand activity, first noted in the UK by James Halliwell-Phillipps in 1847. It might have been given to the inferior cornstarch-and-milk product of some of the less reputable early street sellers in Britain and then followed them across the ocean, though the term in the deceit sense was already known in the US.

But this origin, or for that matter the hocus-pocus origin, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the dance hokey-pokey.

It is being suggested that Feldman repent (turn himself around?)

I szaw that one too.
Here is a Link to wikipedia. If you click on the link about speculations you’ll see the anti-catholic information.
However given the number of different possible uses and origions, I don’t think I give the Anti-Cath stuff much credence. More likely some anti-catholic person simply used the already existing term/song to apply to this/her own bashing terminology. You can never trust anti-catholics.


Who cares what it’s derived from? Nowadays it’s a harmless childrens song.


Here I thought it was just an children’s fun song to learn body parts, especially left from right

I wonder if there is substitute fun song for learning body parts.

One of my favorite movies for my children was Hocus Pocus which was about witches but these witches seemed good but were very evil and actually tried to take the life out of children.

Another good reason to stay away from NPR…

I never took the song that seriously. But I would look up some more sources, just to be sure. :blush:

The only radio I listen to is Public Radio and enjoy Michael Feldman, Car Talk, Thistle and Shamrock, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Morning Edition, Science Friday and all the rest.

It would not surprise me in the least (about Hokey Pokey) and it doesn’t make me think any less of the song. We used to play it when we went roller skating as kids.

Did you know that Ring-Around-The-Rosie is about the Plague?

I find NPR’s political slant hugely annoying, but they do have some good musical programs.

Ugh, Michael Feldman… The only laughs he gets are when people don’t laugh at his material, and so there is an awkward pause, and then people laugh because of the lack of laughter. Or maybe they flash the “laughter” sign at the audience. You’d think after so many years of live broadcasting he’d have better timing.

The only really funny bit I remember from him is when he read a piece of hate mail someone sent him, and it turned out they were really trying to send hate mail to Michael BOLTON… heh, for some reason that made me laugh.

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