An Easter treat: French cats play ‘Dansons la Capucine’

March 31, 2013 • 12:52 am

by Matthew Cobb

French children play a clapping game and sing a song called ‘Dansons la Capucine’. So too do French cats, as proved by this video. Even if you are allergic to cute commentaries put on videos, this will definitely amuse you. If you understand French, you’ll find it even funnier (though the subtitles are pretty good). For those of you who are among the >2 million people to have already seen this, well you can just watch it again.

NB ‘Capucine’ is the French common name for Nasturtium, though what that has to do with the dance that the song is about is unclear. Feel free to pitch in if you think you know (please go beyond the first page of Google in your research!)

16 thoughts on “An Easter treat: French cats play ‘Dansons la Capucine’

  1. The French word ‘capucin’ – derived from ‘capuchon’ (hood) – refers to a (male) member of a catholic order of monks (wearing hoods). Capucine is the female form and refers to a nun wearing a special type of hood. ‘Dansons la capucine’ is a popular French children’s song.

  2. What a great cat video. Makes my day!

    The song might go back to this guyément

    Bear in mind it is a song for children. So a fair amount of playful nonsense might be part of the game. “Capucine” rhyhms with “voisine”, so that is a good reason to use it instead of any other flower name. Seemingly the full text:

    Dansons la capucine
    y’a pas de pain chez nous
    y’en a chez la voisine
    mais ce n’est pas pour nous
    ou les petits cayoux!

    Playful and colorful names derived from the environment are plentiful in french music. Francois Couperin e.g. from livres de clavecinème_livre_de_pièces_de_clavecin_(Couperin)

    How do you like for example “L’amphibie, mouvement de passacaille”?

    Here’s little franco-allemand easter joke for you: In Berlin today we have “Oeufs à la neige”. Joyeuses Pâques!

    1. I was trying to exercise my extremely rusty French to translate that …
      “Dansons la capucine
      y’a pas de pain chez nous
      y’en a chez la voisine
      mais ce n’est pas pour nous
      ou les petits cayoux!”
      -> [We] dance the [hooded dance, discussed above]
      -> There is no bread at our home
      -> There is some at the neighbour’s home.
      -> But it’s not for us,
      -> Or for the children [in the area / over there]

      So, it’s actually a rather darker song than the impression left by “children’s song”.

        1. A lot of “childrens songs”, and “fairy tales” are darker than people initially imagine.
          But that’s hardly news.

          1. ‘Ring around the roses’ was a charm to ward off the plague. Most nursery rhymes were political commentary when they started.

            1. ‘Ring around the roses’ was a charm to ward off the plague.

              I’ve heard it argued both ways ; while that’s certainly a popular interpretation, I am pretty sure that it’s not universally accepted.
              I treated the rest of the programme (e.g., what the other actual interpretation was/ were) with appropriate disinterest, so I couldn’t tell you what the controversy is, But I’m pretty sure of the controversy’s existence.

      1. Good work! But the last line doesn’t refer to children, but to stones, or pebbles.
        “oups, those stones!”
        So it’s like the children refer to the dance that they are dancing in the first line and the last line, which says “oups, all those stones!”. Probably referring to all the stones you get in your shoes when you dance in the countryside….

        1. You’re a native(-ish) French speaker?
          I encountered an interesting idiom about 10 minutes ago. With my usual ballistic approach to spelling and grammar, it was [Implied? Nous sommes …?] “Entre la peste et cholera.”
          What a delightful way of being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea!

    1. C’est chlorierte! Vive le son, Vive le son! Apart from the major chord in the refrain, what made you think those two songs are related? best wishes from Allemagne!

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