The Story of Hunk•Ta•Bunk•Ta

Once upon a time, when I was growing up, my parents, brother, sister, three sets of aunties and uncles, 13 cousins and 6 dogs, (plus one scrawny stray cat we called “Tidbit”), gathered for Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s house.

While the biscuits baked, the potatoes boiled and the chicken fried, the grown ups chatted quietly in the living room and the children played in the yard. Rain or wind, sun or snow, we were a wild and giggly bunch who made such a ruckus that no one could get our attention, except for our Granny. And this is how she did it. She opened up the kitchen door, cupped her hands around her lips, and hollered this at the top of her lungs:

“KICK-ta-bill-icky/ALL-uh-guh-LOCK-sta/HUNK-TA-BUNK-TA Boo. Yooooo-Hooooo!” That was her special way of letting us know lunch was ready.

That’s the story of how I learned about Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta. The rest of the story is that our Granny learned it from her great grandmother. So now, it’s at least 200 years old. To this day, nobody knows (or can remember) where it came from, who said it first, or what it really means. It could be Celtic, Welsh or Scottish, because that’s where Granny’s great grandmother lived. Maybe someone made it up. It might even be an African dialect, Chinese, Farsi or Eskimo. Do you know?

Once I heard it I never forgot it, and the same thing might happen to you. Just think, if you learn it and then pass it on to your children’s children, who knows how many birthdays it might celebrate! The End (NOT!).