Published in St. Nicholas
"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 of birth and to help young children remember the seven days of the week. Of the seven days, all children those days represent have positive futures except for one – Wednesday. As with all nursery rhymes, there are many versions. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19526.
Common modern versions include:
- 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 bonnie and blithe and good and gay.
This rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray's Traditions of Devonshire (Volume II, pp. 287–288) in 1838 and was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century.[not in citation given] The tradition of fortune telling by days of birth is much older. Thomas Nashe recalled stories told to "yong folks" in Suffolk in the 1570s 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.
There was considerable variation and debate about the exact attributes of each day and even over the days. Halliwell had 'Christmas Day' instead of the Sabbath.[not in citation given] Despite modern versions 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 which "Friday's child is full of woe", perhaps reflecting traditional superstitions associated with bad luck on Friday – as many Christians associated Friday with the Crucifixion. In addition to Wednesday's and Friday's children's role reversal, the fates of Thursday's and Saturday's children were also exchanged and Sunday's child is "happy and wise" instead of "blithe and good".
In popular culture
- Enchanted is the first novel in The Woodcutter Sisters series by Alethea Kontis about sisters named for the day of the week, mothered by Seven Woodcutter. The first concerns Sunday, who is "bonny and blithe and good and gay". The sisters' roles and personalities are based on the rhyme, though some ironically as Sunday notes. The second novel, Hero, features Saturday as the Protagonist.
- In The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of Miguelito's Revenge" (1968), Dr. Loveless abducts seven individuals who match the characters in the poem, on the day each character is mentioned.
- Prior Walter refers to the poem in Tony Kushner's play Angels in America (1985–86) (Act III Scene 1).
- Monday's Child (2004) and Tuesday's Child (2005) are novels written by Louise Bagshawe.
- "Monday's child has learned to tie his bootlace" is a line from the song "Lady Madonna" (1968) by The Beatles.
- In the third generation (Series 5 and 6) of British series, Skins main character Grace Violet Blood owned a Tumblr account under the url "Tuesday's Child", a reference to being full of Grace.
- "Tuesday's Child" is a song on the second album (1988) by Contemporary Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman.
- "Tuesday's Child" is the second episode of season 6 of the ITV series "Vera"
- Wednesday's Child (1956) is a short story by William Tenn (pen name of Philip Klass) published in Fantastic Universe in 1956.
- Wednesday's Child (1992) is a novel by Peter Robinson filmed for television as an episode of DCI Banks (2014).
- Wednesday's Child (2011) is a short story by Ken Bruen, nominated for the 2011 CWA Short Story Dagger.
- Wednesday's Child is a play in the umbrella series Kraft Television Theatre (season 1, episode 15), broadcast on January 21, 1954.
- "Wednesday's Child" is an episode in season 1 of the US version of Prime Suspect.
- "Wednesday's Child" is an episode in season 15 of Law & Order: SVU.
- The news team of a TV station in Norfolk, Virginia (WAVY-TV) had an ongoing feature called "Wednesday's Child." Each story would feature a child experiencing health or family or financial woes.
- John Barry's main theme for the film The Quiller Memorandum (1966) is called "Wednesday's Child" (sung by Matt Monro).
- The Raiders' 1970 album "Collage" contains the track "Wednesday's Child", the lyrics of which are another variation of the "Monday's Child" nursery rhyme, with the song ending with the lines "Wednesday's child is full of woe. Woe I know, I am Wednesday's Child".
- 'Wednesday's Child' is the name of a story arc of David Hopkins' webcomic Jack.
- Grim and macabre Wednesday Addams of the Addams Family was named for the nursery rhyme.
- British folk metal pioneers Skyclad included "Wednesday's Child" as one of two main characters described in their song "The Widdershins Jig" (along with "Wise man's son"), on their 1991 debut album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth.
- "Wednesday's Child" is a song by Emiliana Torrini which appears on her 1999 album Love in the Time of Science.
- “Wednesday’s Child” is the 11 episode in season 3 of First Wave Tv series during which "Crazy" Eddie recites the poem.
- "Thursday’s child has far to go" is referred to by Zoe in the Night Town episode of James Joyces's Ulysses (1922). Stephen Dedalus (and Joyce himself) were born on a Thursday.
- "Thursday's Child" is a song by Tanita Tikaram from her album The Sweet Keeper, also released as a single.
- "Thursday's Child Has Far To Go" is a travel blog by Nicola Ruth Slawson.
- Thursday's Child (1956) is one of Eartha Kitt's three autobiographies.
- Thursday's Child (1970) is a novel by Noel Streatfeild.
- Thursday's Child (2000) is a novel by Sonya Hartnett.
- Thursday's Child (2013) is a novel by Monique Martin.
- "Thursday's Child" is an episode in the fifth season of the series Road to Avonlea, in which Great Aunt Eliza recites part of this poem in relation to Cecily.
- "Thursday's Child" is an episode of Murder, She Wrote in season 7.
- Thursday's Child is mentioned in The Tree, a 2010 Australian/French film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg.
- "Thursday's Children" is a 1954 documentary of a school for the deaf, directed by Lindsay Anderson.
- The Chameleons' 1983 album Script of the Bridge contains the track Thursday's Child.
- Isobel Campbell included a song called "Thursday's Child" on her album Milkwhite Sheets (2006).
- David Bowie included a song called "Thursday's Child" on his 1999 album Hours.
- Van Morrison wrote a song entitled "Friday's Child" (1971) while with the band Them.
- Nancy Sinatra had a hit in 1966 with "Friday's Child," written by Lee Hazlewood.
- Friday's Child (1944) is a novel by Georgette Heyer.
- "Friday's Child" (1967) is an episode of the original Star Trek television series.
- Will Young released an album named Friday's Child (2003). The title track has a variant of the rhyme as its chorus.
- "Old Mama Saturday ('Saturday's Child Must Work for a Living')" (1995) by Marie Ponsot, featured in the 1995 volume of the annual Best American Poetry, vol. 8 (New York: Collier Books, 1995), refers to the rhyme in its title.
- 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 (1966).
- "Sunday's Child" is the titular song on the album "Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child" by Contemporary Christian musician Phil Keaggy.
- "Sunday's Child" is featured in the lyrics of the song "All That Money Wants" by The Psychedelic Furs.
- The Velvet Underground includes the lyric "Thursday's Child" on the track "All Tomorrow's Parties" on The Velvet Underground and Nico
- Spandau Ballet used the line "Fridays Child is full of soul" in their 1986 hit Through The Barricades.
- Jazz Calendar is a ballet by Frederick Ashton to music by Richard Rodney Bennett, and design by Derek Jarman, premiered by the Royal Ballet in January 1968, whose seven movements are based on the rhyme.
- "Wednesday's Child" is an episode of Salem in Season 3.
- Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron, a traditional English folk song written in the 19th century about a housewife carrying out one part of her linen chores each day of the week
- Solomon Grundy, an English nursery rhyme mentioning the days of the week
- Ashanti birthday names, e.g. Dwodwo (Monday's child) traditional Gold Coast Akan language naming convention, common amongst West African diaspora
- Iona Opie and Peter Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 364-5.
- Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire: On the Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy, Illustrative of Its Manners, Customs, History, Antiquities, Scenery, and Natural History, in a Series of Letters to Robert Southey, Esq. 2. J. Murray. 1838. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
- A. Fox, Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500–1700 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 182.
- 'Children's charms and Oracles' New York folklore quarterly (1952), p. 46.
- Kraft Television Theatre: Wednesday's Child on the Internet Movie Database
- [dead link]
- "Thursdays Child | Episode 61 (Season 5, Episode 9), originally aired on CBC: February 27, 1994". avonleaguide.com. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
- Mik Foggin. "The Chameleons -". thechameleons.com. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
- Day of the week calculator from Ancestor Search