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Origins: Monday’s Child

Sunday's child

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 that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Being a child born on the Sabbath day myself, I am quite keen on this rhyme. Springing from the belief that each day of the week is presided over by a particular god or celestial being, and that one is imbued with certain qualities that reflect those of the god in question, the ryhme appears to have become popular in Devonshire in the sixteenth century, but is not recorded until 1838, when it appeared in the second volume of Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire.

Most of the days of the week are named for Norse gods. Tuesday for Tyr, the god of single combat; Wednesday for Woden (or Odin), omni-ocular king of the gods; Thursay for Thor, god of thunder. Friday is named for Freya, goddess of love.  Saturday is named for Saturn, Roman god of farming, Sunday for the sun and Monday for the moon.

Those who are unhappy with the charicteristics they’ve been dealt may take solace from a version of the rhyme that appeared in Harpers Weekly in 1887 which transposes the characteristics of Wenesday and Thursday with those of Friday and Saturday. Today both versions are equally popular.

Find out what day of the week you were born on here.

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