The Hokey Pokey Is What It’s All About

You think I’m joking?  I’m actually not.  You still don’t believe me?  Well … I guess I don’t blame you … much.  For the record, I’m NOT joking … much.  Alright, you got me.  I’m joking.  Or am I?

Let us visit the shady origins of the Hokey Pokey, shall we?  You think this is joke?  I think you think this is a joke.  Well, I’m not joking.  So, just shut up.  Politely.

There is much controversy (well, I don’t know about much controversy) regarding where the heck the Hokey Pokey came from (actually, I don’t know if anyone cares).  One pretty widespread (well, widespread is a strong word … in fact, that’s a very strong word) theory about it is that … um … well, it’s complicated (actually, it’s really not … it’s just stupid).  I’m not sure where to start.  I know, I’ll start here …

No, maybe I won’t.  Actually, yeah, I will.  There’s no other way around it, unfortunately.

It all boils down to … the Catholic Mass!  What?  What’s that you say?  The Catholic Mass!  Honestly, what the crap?  No really … honestly … what – the – crap.

First of all, it is a fairly confirmed historical fact that “hocus pocus” was some sort of Protestant parody of the Latin words of consecration that the Catholic priest would say to sacramentally transubstantiate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ … the beginning of which went, “Hoc est enim corpus meum” (i.e. “This is my body”).  Of course, lots of Protestants thought this was all crap, naturally.  The bread and wine turns into Jesus?  Who believes that?  Not even Jesus … even though Jesus literally said “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”  But you know what?  Why should we take Scripture literally?  Let alone the words of Jesus?  I mean, Protestants have wisely never taken the Bible literally.  Oh wait.

So anyway, some Dutch Protestants around the 1600’s or something thought this was just Catholics trying to perform some sort of magic spell and gradually corrupted it into “hocus pocus” … which, incidentally, became synonymous with “magic” and stuff or something.  This is a bit controversial, but it is quite a popular theory (and, yes, when I say popular … I’m not sure what I mean).

Then, we have the aberration called the Shakers.  This was a mutation of the Quaker Religion (also Protestant of course … and American for that matter, c. 1780 AD).  But more crazy.  They actually believed that SEX was evil!  That’s right.  No sex whatsoever.  They only perpetuated themselves through converts and adopting orphans and brainwashing them.  Needless to say, it didn’t last.  They died out.  They were sort of monk/nun-wannabes.  But being of a Protestant sort, they were too narrow-minded to make room for BOTH celibate AND non-celibate members in their religion.  That simply would have been too Catholic.  And we don’t need that crap.

But anyway, while the Shakers were still shaking, they passed the time with dancing.  This dancing was specially engineered to shake out their sexual energy or something, lest you know … exactly.  In fact, this is how they got the name “Shakers.”   I’m not even joking this time (I’m actually not joking … not like those other times).

However, one of their little shindigs that they supposedly created (and when I say supposedly … that’s pretty much precisely what I mean) was … in fact … the Hokey Pokey.  Apparently, they brought the whole “hocus pocus” thing to a whole new anti-Catholic level.  Not only were they merely lampooning the words of consecration, they were adding motions to it (and, yeah, more delicious lyrics).  Apparently, the whole “put your [whatever] in; put your [whatever] out” was meant to mock the seemingly meaningless, repetitive gestures that the priest would make over the altar with his various “pagan” blessings and whatnot (it was pre-Vatican II, so who knows what he was doing … honestly).  So, yeah, after all that “going through the motions” and silly ritual-type garbage, it would all climax as the priest turned himself around to the congregation and spoke the wicked incantation, “Hoc est enim corpus meum” also known as “hocus pocus” also known as the “hokey pokey.”  This is what Catholics think the Mass is all about.  Not only that, that is what they think it is all about.  Catholics think the Eucharist is the source and summit of the faith!  It doesn’t get any more that’swhatit’sallabout-ish than that, my friends.

So, some of you may have seen those bumper stickers that say, “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?” Funny, eh?  Well, crazy enough, when I saw one, it got me thinking … what if it was true?  What IF the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?  And it led me to this theory (you know, that it was related to “hocus pocus” which I had heard was connected to the Mass and stuff).  Then I checked, and I realized that … I wasn’t crazy!  Do you know how rare that is!  So, I totally have that bumper sticker now … trying to get people to realize that the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about.  Yeah, that’s right, they’ll figure it out.  Just like I did.  It’s all about being subtle.  Yeah.  Or something.

Still think I’m joking?  Don’t answer that.  Or you can, if you want to.  Either way.  Okay, bye.

About Remus

I am a teacher at a High School in Minnesota. I've taught History, Philosophy, Literature, and Psychology. That's about it.
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3 Responses to The Hokey Pokey Is What It’s All About

  1. Sarah says:

    Love the nod to the bumper sticker. I’ll never see it the same way again.

    Another bumper sticker that got me to thinking recently, was the “Jesus is ____.” When an agnostic friend asked me to explain it by filling in the blank, I think I confused him more by saying I wouldn’t fill in the blank and would end it there, because Jesus simply “is. Period.” Metaphysics and all that. Supposedly silly and cute bumper stickers can be quite profound indeed. Maybe.

  2. Georgia says:

    in England, a lot of people have gotten upset about the 50’s dance craze because they believe some people use the dance to mock Catholics. It has even gotten to the point where a Scottish politician called for police action against those who danced the hokey pokey at football matches.

    Now, however, the son of the song’s author has come forward with the real story
     behind the song. Jimmy Kennedy Jr. offered his father’s tale of how the song came about. It seems that, in 1942, he attended a rather boisterous party with a group of Canadian soldiers. “They were having a hilarious time,” wrote the elder Kennedy, “singing and playing games, one of which they said was a Canadian children’s game called The Cokey Cokey. I thought to myself, wouldn’t that be fun as a dance to cheer people up! So when I got back to my hotel, I wrote a chorus based on the feet and hand movements the Canadians had used, with a few adaptations.”

    As for the title, well, it turns out that’s a reference to the “drugs taken by the miners in Canada to cheer themselves up in the harsh environment where they were prospecting.” And that, folks, is what it’s all about.

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