"It is a pity that we know so much about Christ, and yet enjoy Him so little."

- Charles Spurgeon
Criss-Cross Applesauce?

In several different settings, teachers have told my children to sit "criss-cross applesauce". And they would show my kids how to sit with their legs crossed for whatever the activity was. I thought it was cute when I first heard it a couple years ago. After all, kids love rhyme (and so do I... all the time:-)

Then a few weeks ago, I was one of the leaders in our church's Vacation Bible School. We were re-enacting Bethlehem the week Christ was born. The inside of the church was set up to look like an ancient Biblical village complete with characters in costume. After walking by a "beggar", I asked the children what that man was doing. One of the kids said, "He was sitting criss cross applesauce". I acknowledged the answer and went on explaining why people in bible times begged and that it was a common sight.

That night my wife said, "Do you know why that little girl said "criss cross applesause"? I said, "Yeah, I'd thought about that. It was weird."

It had seemed to me that this little girl thought that was really what his sitting position was called. She wasn't a teacher saying a cutesy rhyme to a child. She stated it as a fact. It dawned on me then that this little girl (age 10) had probably heard that term so often, she really thought that's what you called it. I told my wife that.

My wife said, "Yes, but there's something else. What did we call it when we were kids?"

And then it dawned on me. We used to call it "Indian Style"

Perhaps the Politically Correct Police have changed our children's vocabulary.


So what about you?
What do you call that sitting position?
Is it wrong to use the phrase "indian style"?
Has "criss cross applesauce" really become the new name of that sitting position?
What do your children's teacher's call it?
Are there other names for that sitting position?

Tell me everything you know about this no matter how small. I'm intensely curious about it.


Trackback URL: http://thinklings.org/bloo.trackback.php/3231.

Comments on "Criss-Cross Applesauce?":
1. Pigwotflies - 08/03/2006 6:53 am CDT

Dunno, I've never called it 'Indian style', just sitting cross-legged. I've never heard 'criss-cross applesauce' either. But then I'm in the UK.

2. Jough - 08/03/2006 6:57 am CDT

It's also called tailor style.
Here's more info:

3. Sherry - 08/03/2006 7:01 am CDT

I only know "Indian style." That's what I called it when I taught many years ago.

4. nhe - 08/03/2006 7:18 am CDT

definitely "indian style" when I was a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's in California and Ohio........ that certainly could have been "pc-ized" - but I didn't get the memo.

Also "sitting crossed-legged on the floor, 25 or 6 to 4" (song lyric from Chicago) comes to mind......

5. Weekend Fisher - 08/03/2006 7:24 am CDT

"Pretzel style" was what my son's kindergarten teacher used to call it. It was "Indian style" when I was a kid. I think my kids just call it "cross-legged" now.

6. Jenny Owen - 08/03/2006 7:27 am CDT

I have 3 kids - 11, 8 and 3. All 3 say "criss cross applesauce", all the time. We live in Seattle, the heart of PC-ness, so I would have to say that "indian style" is no longer appropriate...at least not here.

The shortcut is "criss cross".

7. Raindream - 08/03/2006 7:30 am CDT

I've heard of "criss cross applesause," but wouldn't have called cross-legged sitting that. I don't think the thought police had anything big to do with the change, if there has been a change. Note this explanation of a game called "criss cross applesause." If this has been around for a decades, children or adults could naturally use the name for the sitting style. That's the way language works.

8. Dawn Clark - 08/03/2006 9:14 am CDT

I've never heard "criss cross applesauce" (we have 7 children, so one might think we would have come across it by now) we've only ever called it sitting cross-legged. (Although I do think I have memories of calling it sitting Indian style, as a child)

We play a game called "Squish, squash applesauce" but it doesn't involve sitting or crissing or crossing. :? (Suffice it to say Dad made it up, hence it involves much shrieking and squealing by all)

9. Matt Self - 08/03/2006 9:34 am CDT

We called it 'Indian Style,' too, but I never understood why. We had both Indians (the kind that come from a large Asian country) and Native Americans in my classes, and they slouched in their desks just like me.

10. Lauren - 08/03/2006 10:17 am CDT

The first time I heard "criss-cross applesauce" was about 2-3 years ago. I thought it was ridiculous. I always said Indian-style but also knew it as "cross legged". I will never use "criss-cross applesauce". I think it is completely absurd and entirely too long to say :)

11. Mandi - 08/03/2006 10:46 am CDT

I have never heard the criss cross applesauce phrase. We still say sit "indian style". I'm in Ohio and the PC police have been a bit slow to creep into our area.

12. Ellen - 08/03/2006 11:07 am CDT

I worked in a public with little kids and yes, it's the PC police.

Parableman posted about something similar yesterday.

I offended a kids in a public high school for saying "that's like the pot calling the kettle black".

13. Ame - 08/03/2006 6:27 pm CDT

My girls are 6 & 8 - yep, that's all they know - I'm sure it's b/c it's PC - but the last part says:

Criss cross applesauce, spoons in your lap! (gotta keep those hands to yourself!!!!!)

14. dbd - 08/03/2006 10:28 pm CDT

I've never heard "criss cross applesauce" before.

We said half-lotus and lotus, and from maybe fourth(?) to seventh(?) grade you were pretty cool if you could sit in full lotus. I could not.

15. JH - 08/04/2006 3:21 pm CDT


16. Matt Bramanti - 08/05/2006 9:23 am CDT

I'm 24, and I've only ever heard "Indian-style." I've got an 8-year-old brother who says Indian-style, too.

I guess Catholic schools are insulated from political correctness. At least I hope so.

17. Reon - 08/07/2006 8:20 am CDT

I've worked in and with many a child care facility for several years now. "Criss-cross Applesauce" (I think) originated from a poem that goes something like this (with a range of variations):

Criss-cross applesauce. (Draw an X with finger on child's back.)
Spiders crawling up your spine. (Walk fingers up child's back.)
Cool breeze. (Gently blow on child's neck.)
Tight squeeze. (Hug child.)
Now you've got the shivers. (Gently tickle child.)

Now it is definitely being used in place of "Indian Style" to define the cross-legged sitting position.

18. Ian - 08/07/2006 12:52 pm CDT

I've never heard of "criss-cross applesauce." I'm 24 and when I was a kid growing up in Illinois I remember it being called "Indian style."

19. wisewoman - 08/09/2006 7:30 am CDT

I have always heard/said "Indian style" or "cross-legged." Probably Indian style more though.

20. Tony - 08/09/2006 9:13 pm CDT

I'm 30 and also from Ohio and while I've heard it called Indian Style, I've always said cross legged. I haven't heard indian style for years and had forgotten it was also called that.

As far as the person who said their father invented "squish squash applesauce", he actually didn't. It's a game we used to play when we were bored during football practice and at games. It involves people sitting on the bench. You lean one way and say "squish", the other and say "squash" and then everybody leans back the original direction with all of their might and yell "Applesauce!!!", pushing the unfortunate person on the end of the bench to the ground. Usually the person who got knocked off doesn't realize the game is being played until it's too late. It was even in an old Charlie Brown comic strip years ago.

21. jen - 01/07/2007 5:02 pm CST

I have never heard of indian style. I only know the term cross-legged.
And as a teaching rhyme I have heard criss cross applesauce but only to remind the children how to sit. That little girl was probably over generalizing. I haven't heard any children calling cross-legged sitting --criss cross applesauce.

22. Mike - 01/11/2007 11:32 am CST

I am 58, went to school in north-central Arkansas, and never heard the term "criss cross applesauce" until I saw this web page a few minutes ago.

We have always used "Indian style" or "cross-legged".

23. Megan - 01/21/2007 10:24 pm CST

I found this page because I am discussing dreams in a public forum. A 17-year-old girl from New Jersey just described a dream in which she was "sitting criss-cross-applesauce". I had no idea what it meant so I googled and am fascinated. I am 25, always heard/said "Indian style" at school & girl scouts in South Eastern Pennsylvania, and am sure it's the PC police!!!

24. Karen - 06/17/2007 8:12 am CDT

I heard "criss cross applesauce" for the first time yesterday when my friend was telling her children to sit that way. And I had forgotten about "indian style" which I haven't heard since grade school in the 60's. My friend tells me that in Germany, it's known as "Turkish style" - which is rather interesting since the Germans seem to look down on the Turks in much the same way as Americans of the 19th and early 20th century tended to look down on Native Americans.

I cringe when I think of all the carelessly offensive expressions, jokes, and slang terms that were still in use when I was a child. I know that most people who used them never realized they were offensive, and I do think that political correctness goes a little too far sometimes, but nevertheless I'm glad those old sayings are being forgotten.

25. Maire - 09/01/2007 6:54 pm CDT

Growing up in So. Cal, Catholic school, 1970's, we always said "indian style". I first heard "criss cross applesauce" when my son started preschool a few years ago - In the Seattle area. Most of the children around here seem to refer to cross-legged sitting as "criss cross applesauce". It's definitely the influence of PC thinking.

I had to chuckle about Ellen's use of "calling the pot black". It seems that colors are on the verge of being banned.

26. Maire - 09/01/2007 6:55 pm CDT

Growing up in So. Cal, Catholic school, 1970's, we always said "indian style". I first heard "criss cross applesauce" when my son started preschool a few years ago - In the Seattle area. Most of the children around here seem to refer to cross-legged sitting as "criss cross applesauce". It's definitely the influence of PC thinking.

I had to chuckle about Ellen's use of "calling the pot black". It seems that colors are on the verge of being banned.

27. Redb - 09/17/2007 9:10 pm CDT

I found this entry today after coming home from pre-school my daughter started talking about "criss-cross applesauce." I was curious as to where it came from and since I won't be talking to her teacher until tomorrow I thought I'd do what any normal adult would do and Google it. Thanks for the info! We called it Indian style when I was a kid as well although I haven't used that term in years, since I was old enough to know better. I used "cross-legged." So I guess "criss-cross applesauce" has made it to the Catholic schools.

28. E. Dawg - 10/13/2007 10:19 pm CDT

I dislike "criss cross apple sauce". I will never let my children obey or adopt that term. If Aynsleigh, 3, or Brahkton, 4, repeat this term in my presense, I will put them in time out. I urge other parents to join me in the fight against "criss cross apple sauce".

29. Jen - 10/18/2007 12:26 pm CDT

Wow, E.Dawg...that seems a bit harsh. I feel bad for your children. To blatently tell them to disobey their teachers because you don't like the term they use. Has applesauce offended you in some way that you won't allow your children to use the word? Aren't there more important things in the world we live in that parents could be fighting against? Scary.

30. Lee - 10/21/2007 2:01 pm CDT

“Criss-Cross Applesauce,” is the politically correct instruction formerly known as “Sitting Indian Style”? I was enlightened to the term at my grandson’s forth birthday party. It rhymes, but makes no sense. When sitting Indian Style children acknowledged America’s aboriginal heritage. What possible disrespect was perpetrated?

Little Black Sambo, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Jesus have all been expelled from public school in the name of political correctness. Incrementally, our cultural identity is being chipped away with a hodgepodge of senseless taboos.

Consider Bob Unruh’s, WorldNetDaily.com article from September 12, titled, “Mom,' 'dad,' targeted by California bias ban”:

“A new plan approved by the California Legislature could be used to ban the words "dad" or "mom" in all public schools as being discriminatory against "partner 1"' and "partner 2" in same-sex relationships, according to critics…The plan, SB777, has passed the state Assembly on a 43-23 vote and it now moves forward to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who previously vetoed another similar plan, SB1437 from 2006.”

The examples above are often non-challenged censorship. Few approve of censorship but the majority seems tolerate it. Why do we let others herd us like sheep?

31. Joe - 10/22/2007 3:16 pm CDT

In the U.S. it has been called sitting "Indian Style" as in the style of the North American Indians. The settlers refered to this as Indian Style because the European settlers were used to sitting in chairs or on objects, etc. North American Indians sat in this positions as part of their culture. In a roving style culture, you traveled light and therefore only with the bare necessities, tents (tee pee's), tools, weapons, etc. The N.A. Indians would often sit in this manner during ceremonies and as reference in the web dictionary, Indians would sit in this style to be closed to mother earth during their ceremony. This is the sitting style used while smoking the peace pipe, a ritual most of us have heard of before. Setters joined in on these ceremonies, and they too were in situations short on comfort items such as chairs, and made reference to the style of seating. "Let's sit in a circle on the floor way the Indians do during ceremony" or lets sit "Indian Style" on the floor.

Now, to the criss cross issue. Yes this is a result of the P.C. police. This term started in the 90's during the Clintons' peak of political correctness. Schools were forced to come up with an alternate term. Schools were worried about getting sued and administrators and teachers about losing their jobs. So as usual, no-one put up a fight. Schools were afraid they may "offend" someone.

Somehow in all of this, people lost sight of the fact that if you call it "Indian Style" you are not de-meaning the Indians in any way. When something is done in the "Style" of something, a person is only refering to the way someone does something. In no way does it put down the other person. In contrast, when things are named for others, it is usually a sign of flattery, or honor. You name it after them because you like the way they do it.

This same argument took place while schools were changing their mascots from "Indian" names. The P.C. police took those words and names of honor, daring, and perseverence, and turned them in to negative ideas.

In this same argument, someone could argue that you should change the name of the "George Washington Bridge" because George Washington might get upset that you named a bridge after him.

The other day in a classroom setting, after someone said sit criss cross applesauce, I said aloud "when I was a kid we called it 'Indian Style'". I did get one glare from an adult -- as if to say, you better not go there. I felt it was a member of the P.C. police ready to call me out.

This shows that the P.C. police has made it where the term "Indian Style" is forbidden. If the trend continues. The term will be forgotten in history, just like the North American Indians are already being forgotten.

What "Irony"! By forbiding the use of the term, people may forget the long lasting honor of adopting a style and name into the settler's culture.

On a side note, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, you'll see more and more ideas that follow this one on a day in and day out basis.

What a scary thought, a thought that affects the little-est of kids in the U.S. If that ideaology can reach there, it can reach anywhere.

32. Joe - 10/22/2007 3:26 pm CDT

Jen, Your comment just shows how society, mostly women, are so willing to give up their personal rights and their personal rights as a parent parenting their own child to those people who want to "keep them in line with the rest".

What a shame to live your life the way others want you to live and not the way that you want to live it.

"That sounds like a life without individual rights ----- ALSO KNOWN AS COMMUNISM"

33. haze - 10/25/2007 5:40 pm CDT

Joe, you described exactly my sentiments when I was corrected for using the term. When I was corrected I started laughing because I thought he was joking. A term like "Indian giving" is offensive, because the context has a negative connotation, but simply acknowledging the way a group of people sits or sat seems as harmless to me as "Indian Summer". (Is that politically - I prefer humanely - incorrect too?) The argument was "Well 'Indians' are not the only ones who sit that way". Also, "East Indians, or Native Americans?" Ok, so the term is simply incorrect, but not humanely incorrect. Am I right? Isn't the point of being "politically correct (ick. I don't like that word) to not say something offensive? How is this term in any way offensive?

Yes, it seems they are taking away everyone's culture in order to create one big entity - one big culture (or lack thereof).

34. Claudia - 11/28/2007 2:55 pm CST

I'm 35yrs & from Maryland our daughter is 7yr. one night i told her to sit Indian style and she looked at me like i was nuts. asked me "what is that"??? I had to sit down to show her. she said "no mommy that's criss cross applesauce" My husband and i looked at each other like WHAT!!!!! I will never change the way I say it and i've told her many times that new term is stupid.
they called Butterfly style too.
This whole PC is getting out of hand.
you can't say anything anymore without someone getting offended and wanting to SUE!
Maybe we AMERICANS need to focus on more important things in our country then offending someone by saying , Indian Style, putting up a Christmas Tree, saying God in the Pledge of Allegiance etc... Maybe those people that wanna raise a big stink over these things should except the way we do things here in OUR COUNTRY and not try to change it. what's next !!! Change our NFL Team name "REDSKINS" To the Washington Capitals??? OH wait thats our Hockey team.. they'll come up with someone cleaver that won't offend someone... This is a bunch of CRAP!

35. Stella - 12/06/2007 6:53 pm CST

My 4 year old daughter just told me about her way of sitting is called "criss cross applesauce" by her pre-school teacher. I have never heard of it and I googled the term just because I was curious. I am quite amazed to see this whole discussion. I agree it is ridiculous to stop calling it Indian style for the sake of political correctness. I don't know why the Indians should be offended. One time someone said the word "Oriental" while we were having a conversation (I am Chinese), and he caught himself and apologized, thinking I would be offended. I was really quite surprised. Why did the word "Oriental" become derogative?

36. Shrode - 12/07/2007 8:27 am CST

I'm beginning to think that this post will forever become the google answer to this question...cool!

Stella, thanks for dropping by. You are right. Oriental shouldn't be offensive, but at this point I think people are so afraid of being offensive, they don't want to use any descriptive at all. I've found myself being hypersensitive before too. I remember sitting in a sociology class in college, when our professor was talking about the anthropological terms for the races - and there were only 3 - caucasoid, mongoloid and negroid. I remember thinking, "should I be offended by this?". It was weird.

But speaking as a white person, I have to admit there are times when I don't know what to say anymore.

I remember recently Barack Obama being criticized for using the label "African-American" since he isn't. He said "I claim it, because that's how I'm viewed, even though my heritage isn't from Africa.

37. Simone - 12/07/2007 11:46 am CST


I am German, currently living in Canada. In Germany this style is called the "taylor's seat" refering to the way taylors (supposedly) used to sit while sowing centurys ago..
So I first heard of the phrase "crisscross applesauce" from my now 3 year old daughter, who attends Kindergarten. To be honest, I thought the expression was quite cute (especially if a toddler syas it), but of course did not know the original name was Indian style.

The most interesting part, though, in regard to the PC-discussion is, that my daughter attends a Daycare/Kindergarten facility, that is part of a Native Indian (or better: First Nations) Community Center! More or less half of the Staff in fact are of First Nation descent, and still, obviously the crisscross term is used instead of the Indian one.

38. Kristy - 12/09/2007 9:14 pm CST

Please people - we are living in a time when we cannot say Indian Style - criss cross apple sauce or cross legged is PC - you have to change with the times -

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