Over the River & Through the Woods

To Grandfather’s house we go…


You sang it endlessly every fall as a child, probably never giving a thought to where this cute Thanksgiving ditty came from. Now you’ll know!

Lydia Maria Child was a nineteenth century journalist, teacher, & novelist who wrote  extensively about the need to abolish slavery. In 1844 she wrote a poem for her book Flowers for Children, Volume . It was titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. When it later became a song, the title was changed too.

English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 ...

English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 – July 7, 1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the original 6 verses of her poem/song:

  • Over the river, and through the wood,
  • To Grandfather’s house we go;
  • the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
  • through the white and drifted snow.
  • Over the river, and through the wood,
  • to Grandfather’s house away!
  • We would not stop for doll or top,
  • for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
  • Over the river, and through the wood—
  • oh, how the wind does blow!
  • It stings the toes and bites the nose
  • as over the ground we go.
  • Over the river, and through the wood—
  • and straight through the barnyard gate,
  • We seem to go extremely slow,
  • it is so hard to wait!
  • Over the river, and through the wood—
  • When Grandmother sees us come,
  • She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
  • bring a pie for everyone.”
  • Over the river, and through the wood—
  • now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
  • Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
  • Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!


Three more things you may want to know…

  1. This is a versatile song that is also sung at Christmas time simply by changing the word “Thanksgiving” to “Christmas”
  2. & for you weather bugs…yes you’re right in thinking that Thanksgiving doesn’t always have to have snow, but in the early 1800’s New England experienced what they now call “the Little Ice Age” with much colder than normal temperatures.
  3. You can easily personalize this song by adding the word “Grass”…

as in Over GRASS RIVER & through the woods…

& now you know. Get ready to hitch up the wagon, fill it with goodies & head out to Grandma’s singing all the way!

Me…I’m off to bundle up for that ride!!!

Picture 008-1

About Diane

a long time lover of all things aquatic...swimming, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling...if it involves water...I'm in. Add traveling, snowshoeing in the winter, gardening in the spring, & lots of fresh air & sunshine. Blend with cooking, crafting, great friends & my Border Collie Zack. Toss in some sweet beekeeping. Mix in a couple of great books, my camera, clean notebook paper, & a cool pen & you pretty much have a picture of me. My friends tell me I should also add..."once a teacher...always a teacher".
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1 Response to Over the River & Through the Woods

  1. Peg Comfort says:

    Can’t access your latest blog. Lucy said it is great. Not sure what the problem is. Snow flurries today! Hugs, Peg

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