Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31: Oranges and Lemon's Day

 At St. Clement Dane's Church in London, children celebrate this festival which takes it name from the old nursery rhyme:

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement’s
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martin’s
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney
I’m sure I don’t know
Says the great bell at Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head
Chop chop chop chop the last man’s head!

The church, founded by the Danish merchants, is located on the banks of the River Thames, and as the story goes,  in the old days, the river at London was wider than it is now and barges carrying oranges and lemons landed just below the churchyard of St. Clements Dane, and, as each ship arrived, the bells of the old church would ring.  On the last day of March, local primary school children gather at the church to attend a service. They recite the famous nursery ' rhyme and, on occasions, play the tune on hand bells. At the end of the service, the children are presented with an orange and a lemon from a table outside the church .


  1. That's a cute nursery rhyme, except for the chopping off the head part...

  2. You may be interested in this:

    Innocent’s Song, a ghost story for ‘Oranges and Lemons’ Day

    Regards, PJ Hodge