img2257.jpgAccording to wikipedia, The rhyme 'Farmer in his Dell' is first recorded in Germany in 1826, as "Es fuhr ein Bau'r ins Holz," and was a courtship game with a farmer choosing a wife, then in turn the selecting of a child, maid, and serving man, who leaves the maid after kissing her.
This was probably taken to North America by German immigrants, where it next surfaced in New York in 1883 much in its modern form and using a melody similar to "A Hunting We Will Go". From here it seems to have been adopted in through the United States, Canada (1893), the Netherlands(1894), Scotland in 1898 and England from 1909. In the early twentieth century it was evident as wide as France ("Le fermier dans son pré"), Sweden ("En bonde i vår by"), Australia, and South Africa.

Like most children's songs, there are variations.
In the United Kingdom it is known as "The Farmer's In His Den'", and progresses through the farmer, wife, child, nurse, dog, ending with a bone, which is then vigorously patted. The 'Hi-Ho, the derry-o' is variously replaced with "Ee-i, tiddly-i" in London, 'Ee-i, andio' (in Northern England), and 'Ee-i, ee-i' (in the West Country).
The Romanian version is "Taranul e pe camp" (The farmer is on the field) but the hey-o is replaced with "Ura, draguta mea" (Hooray, my sweet heart) and the last verses are - the child has a nurse, the nurse has a cat, the cat catches a mouse, the mouse eats a cheese, the cheese was in a cask, the cask is in the garbage, the farmer to chose.
There is also a Thai version to the same tune but with a slightly different story. The three verses roughly translate to:
"Why does the frog have a stomach ache? Why does the frog have a stomach ache?
Because he has been eating wet rice.
Why is the rice wet? Why is the rice wet?
Because it has been raining.
Why has it been raining? Why has it been raining?,
Because the frog has been croaking."

Do you know of any more traditional rhymes and songs that have variations in other countries? How do you think children across the world ended up singing the same songs?