Days of the Week Poem: Monday's Child
Of poems referring to all the days of the week, Monday's child is probably the oldest. It first appeared in 1838 in a book about the Traditions of Devonshire, by A. E. Bray. So the poem itself is likely much older. The author is unknown. It is part of a tradition similar to astrology that a person's fate can be determined by knowing upon which day of the week he or she was born.
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 his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good, and gay.
Though not as popular as other children's poems, "Monday's Child" is well-known enough that references to it are found throughout literature, even in book titles. Wednesday's child seems to get the most play, perhaps because it has the best potential for drama. However, Thursday's child could be the subject of an epic. One wonders if Odysseus was born on a Thursday. Though the poem purports to tell the future, it is not popularly consulted or even remembered by parents. Most people believe that inheritance plays a bigger factor than the day of the week upon which a child is born.
There has been some speculation that each line bears a reference to the mythological god represented by the day. However, it should be noted that some of these relationships are extremely tentative.
- Monday - Moonday - fair of face, because the moon is thought of to have a face.
- Tuesday - Tyr - Norse God of War. He was graceful in battle.
- Wednesday - Woden - Messenger God, who carried the dead. Bringer perhaps of bad tidings and woe.
- Thursday - Thor - God of Thunder. It is thought that far to go might refer to far off rumblings of the weather.
- Friday - Frida - Goddess of Love would be loving and giving.
- Saturday - Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture, always toiling, in tilling the soil - working hard for his living.
- Sunday - of course refers to the sun and the bonny, blithe, good, and gay are qualities sometimes attributed to the sun, especially in climes when he is not often seen.