What is the meaning behind Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater? Nursery rhymes are making a comeback lately, perhaps due to the realisation that many of our childhood favourites are darker than we thought. So, grab a security blanket and keep reading as we dive into the real meaning of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater!

The meaning behind Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

The original nursery rhyme goes like this:

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn’t love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

The true meaning behind this rhyme is actually very ominous. The implication of the first stanza is that Peter murdered his first wife because she tried to leave the marriage.

According to Bustle, “she was supposedly a prostitute. Historians believe that Peter the pumpkin-eater tired of his wife’s extra-curricular activities then murdered her and hid her body in a pumpkin.”

Alternatively, it could be that the pumpkin shell is a metaphor for the brothel where Peter kept his wife prisoner and sold her body.

The second wife’s story is less well known, as most people only know the first part of the song, but we can imagine her fate was equally sinister.

Nursery rhyme origins

The nursery rhyme dates back to London in 1797, where it is said to have first been published in Infant Institutes.

The rhyme is well known in the US, too. It first appeared published in America in 1825, in Mother Goose’s Quarto.

Why is Peter Pumpkin Eater trending?

So why is this traumatising, nightmare-inducing nursery rhyme making a comeback, you ask?

Well you see, though the reason it’s trending can’t be confirmed, we have a feeling it’s to do with the fact that the internet just found out about the real meaning behind another nursery rhyme, This little piggy went to the market‘.

However, some Twitter users seem to think the meaning of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater has to more to do with…adult content.

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