This is news to me. I mean, it’s 300 year old news but that’s usually about how long it takes for me to find out about things. It turns out that the Hokey-Pokey is an anti-Catholic song. When I think about all the birthday parties I went to as a child and was forced to dance this, I try to be shocked and appalled. I’m wondering if I can be retroactively appalled. Here’s the scoop
according to the UK Telegraph:
…According to the Catholic Church and some Scottish politicians, singing the popular tune that begins with the words “You put your right hand in, your right hand out,” may constitute an act of religious hatred.
A spokesman for the leader of the church in Scotland said the song had disturbing origins.
Critics claim that Puritans composed the song in the 18th century in an attempt to mock the actions and language of priests leading the Latin mass. Now politicians have urged police to arrest anyone using the song to “taunt” Catholics under legislation designed to prevent incitement to religious hatred.
Supporters of Rangers FC have been banned from singing anti-Catholic songs at Ibrox stadium to taunt their rivals Celtic, a club with Catholic roots. But fans of the club are said to be discussing on internet forums the possibility of getting round the ban by singing the Hokey Cokey at next week’s Old Firm derby between the clubs.
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for Cardinal Keith O’Brien, said: “This song does have quite disturbing origins. Although apparently innocuous, it was devised as an attack on and a parody of the Catholic mass. “If there are moves to restore its more malevolent meaning then consideration should perhaps be given to its wider use.”
According to the church, the song’s title derives from the words “hocus pocus”.
The phrase is said to be a Puritan parody of the Latin “hoc est enim corpus meum” or “this is my body” used by Catholic priests to accompany the transubstantiation during mass. Several years ago, a canon from Wakefield Cathedral said the dance came from the days when priests celebrated mass with their backs to the congregation and whispered the Latin words of consecration with many hand movements.
Michael Matheson, the SNP MSP, said it was important that the police and football clubs were aware of the sinister background of the song and took action against groups who used it in matches. But opposition politicians and football fans ridiculed the critics of the ditty. Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, said: “I can’t believe Scottish children performing the Hokey Cokey are doing so in pursuit of any sort of anti-Catholic agenda.”
After doing some research on the internet and speaking to my soccer nerd brother-in-law I’ve learned that the Catholic-Protestant divide is pretty pronounced between these two clubs. So it likely had anti-Catholic intent. But look, these poor people have to sit through an entire soccer game. Do you know how boring that is? Every game I’ve ever seen ended in a 1-1 tie. Every one. So these folks have to make their own fun. I half think all the riots in Europe are just because soccer games are so boring. They need to make the nets bigger or something. I just can’t get myself worked up about it.
But if my kids go to a birthday party and the hokey-pokey is sung I’m suing. Anyone got the number for the ACLU?
December 29, 2008 at 6:59 pm
Football boring? Man, with all due respect you don’t know what you’re talkin about.
December 29, 2008 at 7:11 pm
Regarding the catholic protestant divide here's a clip showing the legend, the great Celtic goalkeeper Arthur Boruc blessing himself before the game…
December 29, 2008 at 7:20 pm
Amazing video. I guess here in America we can forget how much us Catholics are disliked. Wow.
As far as giving me all due respect, don’t worry I’m due very little respect.
December 29, 2008 at 7:26 pm
Football — a good excuse for a nap.
December 29, 2008 at 7:32 pm
Wow! Matthew, this is truly amazing. I never knew about “hocus pocus” (although we hear every magician say it) or the hokey-pokey. Those Protestants are fiendishly clever.
December 29, 2008 at 7:43 pm
You learn something new everyday! I always thought the Hokey Pokey was either a polka made up for weddings or something made up a singer like Raffi or Peter, Paul and Mary!
Mac-depending on which football you mean, I’d agree (though college football at a stadium is a completely different story).
December 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm
Funny thing is- every Catholic wedding reception I’ve ever been to, we all do the hokey pokey- usually right after the chicken dance! Who’d a thunk we were just making fun of ourselves? 🙂
December 29, 2008 at 8:07 pm
Are you sure about this? I seem to recall that the man who wrote The Hokey Pokey just died a few years ago. They had a rough time at the funeral home cause every time they put the left hand in . . .
December 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm
I guess it just shows that the author’s intention’s failed – so many use the song and never think anything about it. As for the Rangers – Celtic divide naming the song as anti-catholic will only make them sing it more and the Celtic fans will only find alternative jibe. It’s not just a ‘religious’ divide it’s ethnic – most Southern Irish are Celtic fans. The religious dimension can be overstated. Ranger’s fans hate Catholics because that’s what they do not because they are Protestants themselves. My brother, an Irish Celtic fan,met a Hindu Rangers fan who was just as anti-Catholic. Likewise with the Celtic fans. It’s part of the ‘fun’. By the way if you want excitement in team sport look up hurley – a Gaelic game of speed, skill, courage and scores.
December 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm
Thanks a LOT Matthew…. Now the “Hokey Pokey” will be stuck in my head all afternoon!!!
You cursed fiend!!!
December 29, 2008 at 10:45 pm
Hmmm. So if the ‘Hokey Pokey’ is meant to mockingly mimic the actions of the priest during the Mass, which part of the Mass is where we “put your whole butt in, take your whole butt out”?
December 29, 2008 at 11:10 pm
Hey! In the hokey pokey don’t you have your back to the people at some point?
December 30, 2008 at 3:17 am
“But look, these poor people have to sit through an entire soccer game. Do you know how boring that is?”
at least a soccer game ends pretty much on time and is constant motion unlike American football games that take almost 4 hours to play a 60 minute game. lots of standing around, fouls, penalties etc
keep up the religion comments, but please leave out the soccer bashing
December 30, 2008 at 5:03 am
“The phrase is said to be a Puritan parody of the Latin “hoc est enim corpus meum” or “this is my body” used by Catholic priests to accompany the transubstantiation during mass.”
Accompany the Transubstantiation. I didn’t realize that’s what they were doing. The last time I heard of anyone “accompanying” the transubstantiation, it was a music director who was subsequently fired.
December 30, 2008 at 7:45 am
Please, take it from me. Don’t go there. Not worth the effort.
December 30, 2008 at 11:42 am
While in college, we tried to break the world’s record for the most people doing the Hokey-Pokey at one time.
We followed it with the cheer, “Go Hokies Go!”
It is our official school dance, but please don’t hold that against good ol’ Virginia Tech.
December 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm
We were dancing the hokey-pokey in a dimly lit gym, stocking-footed, with a pimply member of the Student Council running the 45 rpm record player…in 1956.
December 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm
Hey.. maybe parishes that currently do that weird naziesque “mass blessing” salute thing could replace it with the Hokey Pokey…..
It would probably be less embarrassing for all involved….