Yankee Doodle Fun Facts

Spirit of '76 by A.M. Willard

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his hat,
And call it macaroni.

This Fourth of July, amaze your friends with the following Yankee Doodle Fun Facts:

Yankee Doodle, the patriotic song (and state anthem of Connecticut) was originally sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled and disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars:

Tradition and other more official sources have it that the American version of the song was written, at least in part, by a Dr. Richard Schackburg, a British army surgeon during the French and Indian Wars while at the home of the Van Rensselaer family. Schackburg's lyrics were said to be composed to make fun of the colonials who fought alongside the British troops. (Source)

The Americans took the song (and insult) and turned it around: they were proud to be called Yankees, and Yankee Doodle became a patriotic song.

The origin of the Yankee Doodle is murky, but it is thought to originate in 15th century Holland as a harvesting song that began "Yanker dudel doodle down." The same tune was used for an English nursey rhyme "Lucy Locket."

There are several possible origins of the word "yankee," but I like this one: it's a Indian corruption of "anglais," the French word for English.

Doodle is actually a 17th century word meaning "fool."

The macaroni in the lyric is not pasta - it's actually a pejorative term for a man who dressed in a ridiculously outlandish style. The word came from the Italian word "maccherone" or a boorish fool.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Actually, though the tune and meter may predate the familiar song, /Yankee Doodle/ clearly comes from /yank ye doodle/; the Brits were calling the Americans wankers. And while /macaroni/ might have been slang for military decorations, it also alluded to the laughable and limp shortcomings of the collective enemy.

In turn, in the present day, Americans perhaps unfairly deride native patriots in the Middle East as ragheads.
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