Swedish Nursery Rhyme – Rida Rida Ranka Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Culture

As I’ve written before, I sometimes do fieldwork in the United States, interviewing and talking with Scandinavian Americans. It’s a great experience and I get a chance to meet a lot of wonderful people and hear some amazing stories. One thing that has popped up a couple of times is an old nursery rhyme that a lot of people remember from their childhood. In fact, I remember it from mine also!

It’s called Rida Rida Ranka and has quite a few different variations. Rida Rida Ranka means to ride on a rocking horse or to ride on someone’s knees. Usually this little rhyme is said while bouncing a child on one’s knees. I’ve included a couple of versions below:

Rida rida Ranka
hästen heter Blanka
Vart ska vi rida?
Till en liten piga
Vad kan hon heta?
Jungfru Margareta
den tjocka och den feta

Here is a very rough translation, minus the rhyming.

Ride, ride a rocking horse
The horse’s name is Blanka.
Where shall we ride?
To a little girl.
What is her name?
The Virgin Margareta
The chubby and the fat one


Rida, rida ranka,
hästen heter Blanka.
Liten riddare så rar
ännu inga sporrar har.
När han dem har vunnit,
barndomsro försvunnit.

And again, a very rough translation:

Ride, ride a rocking horse
The horse’s name is Blanka.
Cute little knight
You have no spurs yet.
When you have won them
Your childhood will disappear

I’ve also included a really great YouTube clip with the nursery rhyme:

For a few more versions, check out Rida rida ranka. Enjoy!

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Lois Lund Scorgie:

    Your blog about Rida rida ranka was sent to me by me friend who’s 100%Swedish. I’m 50% Swedish and 50% Norwegian. I remember my mother reciting the poem to me when I was young. I think the version she said was the first one. I can’t speak Swedish. She could. What I remember bestis the rhythm of the words

    I grew up in Western Wisconsin and am 65.

    Thanks for the good memory.

  2. Anna Sokol:

    Very sweet! We have this type of song in Russia, too. Interesting how many nationalities ride their children on knees singing?)

  3. Marcus Cederström:

    Glad to hear it everyone

  4. Ben Tupper:

    My mother used to rock me with a slightly different version, which I passed on to my girls when they were little, and they have passed on to their children. (I never learned Swedish, so I don’t know if this is all spelled right,)

    Rida, rida ranka,
    hästen heter Blanka.
    Ne hon heter inte så
    Hästen heter apel grå

    Then she would throw me up in the air and catch me. My girls begged eagerly for the toss at the end.

    When I was living in Germany, my friends taught me to do:

    Hoppe hoppe Reiter
    wenn er fällt, dann schreit er,
    fällt er in den Graben,
    fressen ihn die Raben.
    fällt er in den Sumpf,
    macht der Reiter… Plumpf!

    With a huge crash down between the knees with howls of laughter.

    I think rhyming children’s games like this must be universal around the world.

  5. Marcus Cederström:

    Very cool, thanks for that!

  6. Ed Moyle:

    That brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t heard that rhyme since my mother was alive Thank you!!!

  7. Liz White:

    My mom was Swedish and she used to say this nursery rhyme. She passed away in July and I am in tears here remembering this rhyme. She passed on many wonderful traditions including the celebration of Lucia Dag. Thanks for posting this. God Jul och Gott Nyt Ar.

  8. Marcus Cederström:

    Glad you were both able to enjoy this. It really is a lovely nursery rhyme.

  9. Kathy Kerst:

    I have bounced my 5 granddaughters on my knees reciting this poem. My maternal grandparents were Norwegian and Swedish. The granddaughters delight in this poem!

    • Marcus Cederström:

      @Kathy Kerst That’s wonderful to hear! It really is a lot of fun that this poem gets recited and handed down to children and grandchildren.

  10. Chick Everhardus:

    My grandfather came to this country from Sweden in 1901 at the age of 16. He married an American girl whose parents were both Swedish. He would sing Rida Rida Ranka to us as young children. Of course, we understood not a word of Swedish, but loved the horsey rides and the attention. My sister always remembered the last line of one version, “barndomsro forsvunnit” as “Bjorndam’s rooster’s funny.”

    • Marcus Cederström:

      @Chick Everhardus That’s spectacular; I love hearing your sister’s version of the last line!

  11. JB:

    The version I have has the same beginning but a different ending–it ended with a dog saying, “wow, wow, wow”. My grandfather was Swedish. He Was born in the 1800s. He used to bounce us on his knee while telling the poem. A favorite memory. In 1974, my mother tape recorded him saying the poem along with the translation. We have been careful to preserve the recording. What a treasure!

  12. Heather:

    Hi there! So my mom remembers a version told by her grandmother where it’s about a little dog that says: boo boo boo boo boo at the end. This sound familiar to anyone? Thanks!!

  13. Marcus Cederström:

    Sounds like both of these are similar variants with the dog!

  14. Anna:

    My mother taught me a song when I was little…. Busa,Busa Barna……..Mama nusta garner….. Etc. Does anyone know all of the words? I’d like to have a copy. Thanks! Tak!

  15. Amy:

    This is similar to one I learned from a caregiver when I was young, but it went something like this (I know zero Swedish so I’ll go with phonetics). Can someone help me out with the actual words? The child was bounced off the adult’s knees at the end, like someone getting bucked from a horse.

    Horsa horsa gila
    Minla steesa sila
    Humderoida kudis sir
    Whoops! (Child’s name) rupstiduder!

  16. Jan:

    A Swedish-American neighbor (age 88) introduced me to this rhyme. His version ended in miau, miau, miau.