Here we are again, and it’s time for me to throw down another mind-blowing, universe-alternating fact. Polka music is not German. Not even Bavarian. It originates from the Kingdom of Bohemia. So much for stereotypes.
Bohemia is the original name for what is now the Czech Republic. The lively dance music originated there around 1850. For the time it was a pretty serious dance craze that swept across the globe. The polka influenced musical cultures from Poland to Peru and gave birth to many new hybrid genres still alive today.
Now let’s get to the primary matter of the polka dot, which is a design pattern usually seen as large solid coloured circles on a white background. How did this rather plain circle become assiciated with the polka? Well, it seems to be purely a marketing ploy.
As the polka craze was conquering the hearts and toes of the people, many merchants were jumping on board selling “polka hats” and “polka curtain ties”. The new fabric design got dubbed
“polka dots” and the name has stuck for no good reason at all.
The word polka seems to come from the Czech word půlka, meaning “little half”. That accurately describes the baby steps that are the signature of the polka dance.
- Source: The Word Detective (almost halfway down the page)