Here in Albany, the most famous of our odd Christian sects were the Shakers. Today the Shakers are most known for their furniture and their celibacy, but in 18th century they were known for their group dances.
The dances became a tourist attraction of a sort. The hall where the Shakers danced actually has benches in the back for observers. I think this says something about the lack of entertainment options in colonial New York.
One of the Shaker dances was called the “hinkumbooby,” more commonly known to everyone who went through kindergarten as the “hokey pokey,” (or the “hokey cokey” and other variants.)
Why would the Shakers be doing such an odd dance? Well, according to one legend, the “hokey pokey” is actually a derisive joke mocking the Catholic Mass, and in particular the Eucharist. The motions mock the “sit-stand-kneel” routine of the Mass itself, while the nonsense word that makes up the title supposedly mocks the magical nonsense of the Eucharist.Maybe. The BS Historian grants it only a “plausible,” and I’d add “barely” to that. But maybe this knowledge will be useful.
Focus on that notion, that the “hokey pokey” is actually a joke about the magical nonsense of the Eucharist. Now see if that makes the following clip – featuring a church band playing the “Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey” and extolling its miracle working powers – less ridiculous.
I’m guessing probably not.