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Monday's_Child

Monday's Child

Monday's Child is one of many fortune-telling songs, popular as nursery rhymes for children. It is supposed to tell a child's character or future based on the day they were born. As with all nursery rhymes, there are many versions. Below is just one common form.

Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is full of woe.
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving.
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Original 1887 version

While recent generations have grown up with the version in which, "Wednesday's child is full of woe," an early incarnation of this rhyme appeared in a multi-part fictional story in a chapter appearing in Harper's Weekly on September 17, 1887. In that version "Friday's child is full of woe." In addition to Wednesday's and Friday's children's role reversal, the fates of Thursday's and Saturday's children was also exchanged and Sunday's child is "happy and wise" instead of "blithe and good":

Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is loving and giving.
Thursday's child works hard for a living,
Friday's child is full of woe.
Saturday's child has far to go.
But the child that is born on Sabbath-day
Is bonny and happy and wise and gay.

Origin

Though uncertain, the traits assigned to each given day probably parallel traits assigned to planets, the Sun, and the Moon represented by various Gods in Norse, Roman, and Greek mythology. For example, the English word Friday stems from Freyja, the Norse goddess of Love, hence the notion that children born on Fridays will become 'loving and giving.' In addition, the word for Friday in many Romance languages is derived from the word 'Venus', the Roman goddess of love and beauty; other days of the week follow accordingly.

Monday's child is fair of face. (Mon=Moon, with its 'face')
Tuesday's child is full of grace. (Tues=Týr, Norse 'God of War' related to the Roman Mars and most likely refering to physical grace, not social or spiritual grace)
Wednesday's child is full of woe. (Wednes=Woden 'The Wanderer'in Anglo-Saxon Woden, like his Roman equivalant Mercury, is a psychopomp or carrier-off of the dead, the norse Odin is also associated with death and suffering i.e. hanging on the tree of life for nine days and nine nights, traditional sacrifices of men and animals ect.)
Thursday's child has far to go. (Thur=Thor, Norse god of Thunder equivalent to Jove or Jupiter, might refer to storms traveling)
Friday's child is loving and giving. (Frida=Freyja, Norse 'Goddess of Love' associated with love, beauty, and wealth)
Saturday's child works hard for a living.(Satur-Saturn, Roman god of agriculture and refers to the hard work of a farmer)
But the child that is born on Sabbath-day
Is bonny and happy and wise and gay.(the Sabbath being Sunday, or the day of the sun, gives the attributes associated with the sun. Also the sabbath, being the day to worship God in many Christian practices, could refer to God favoring those born on his holy day, or may also imply that those born on the sabbath, a day when no one is suppose to work, go through life without having to work, or at least work hard or worry, and therefore are more happy).
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Adam Fox quotes the Elizabethan Thomas Nashe. Nashe recalled stories told to "yong folks" around a fire which included "tell[ing] what luck eurie one should have by the day of the weeke he was borne on". Nashe thus provides evidence for fortune telling rhymes of this type circulating in Suffolk in the 1570s (Fox 2000, 182).

Trivia

  • This poem was recited on Snow White, starring Kristin Kreuk, to describe the new names of the dwarves.
  • "Monday's Child" is the name of a program run by WBIR-TV (the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee). This program profiles special needs children who are up for adoption in order to help these children who are often above standard adoption age to find homes.
  • Wednesday Addams of The Addams Family is said to have been named after the phrase, "Wednesday's child is full of woe." Her middle name, Friday, corresponds to the 1887 version.
  • Wednesday's Child is a weekly television feature sponsored by the Freddie Mac Foundation that profiles older children who are up for adoption to try to find loving adoptive homes for them.
  • Musician David Bowie included a song called Thursday's Child on his 1999 album 'hours...'.
  • An episode of Judging Amy derives its title from this poem. Samantha Lightstone (a mentally challenged teenager) describes herself as Thursday's Child in the episode after having recited the rhyme (using the "Thursday's child has far to go" version). This, as one might expect, is the name of the episode.
  • An episode of Road to Avonlea also gets its title from this poem. Cecily King had contracted tuberculosis and was therefore isolated from her family so that she may heal. In an attempt to lighten her spirits, a family member recites the poem but stops after saying "...[but] Thursday's child has far to go", as Cecily was born on a Thursday.
  • Thursday's Child is also the name of a novel by Sonya Hartnett.
  • Thursday's Child is an international children's charity.
  • The Friday's Child episode of Star Trek is most likely named after this rhyme; in the novelization of the episode by James Blish, the poem appears before the start of the story.
  • Musician David Gates, later of Bread, composed a song called Saturday's Child that was included on the 1960s' American pop rock band The Monkees' eponymous first album.
  • Singer Will Young released an album named Friday's Child. The title track has a variant of the rhyme as its chorus.
  • Prior Walter refers to the poem in Angels in America (Act III Scene 1)
  • "Monday's Child" and "Tuesday's child" are two novels written by Louise Bagshawe
  • In "Pat of Silver Bush", Pat's sister Cuddles is born on Sunday, and the nursery rhyme is mentioned.
  • In The Wild, Wild West episode "The Night of Migueltio's Revenge" Friday and Saturday children are switched as well as the last two lines being combined and slightly altered to 'Sunday's child is bonny and brave'. It is also implied that the third line has been changed to 'Wednesday's child is full of whoa'.
  • Thursday’s Child was a boat, designed by Lars Bergstrom, built by Paul Lindenberg and sailed by Warren Luhrs, CEO of [Hunter Marine]. This was the first OSTAR boat with water ballast, and the single, pendulum rudder is still a Luhrs original.

References

  • Fox, Adam. 2000. Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500-1700. Oxford Studies in Social History. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198205120

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