As published in St. Nicholas Magazine, 1873
|Published||1838 (first printed source)|
"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. 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,
- And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
- Is bonny 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. 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. 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".
- 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.
- Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, London 1849, "Days of Birth", p.228
- 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.
- Oxford University Press
- A performance on YouTube
- Day of the week calculator from Ancestor Search