March 10, 2008

#01-082: Monday's Child...

line illustration of seven children, each in a different attitude; top right has a variant version of the poem, "Monday's child is full of grace..."
Illustration from an 1873 magazine: Sunday at the top, Saturday at the bottom.
Note that some days have switched attributes.

Note: Not so long ago, people believed that when you were born--even the day of the week--would determine your personality. There's a little poem that will help you understand.

Get Ready: Do you know what day of the week you were born on?

In Chinese and Western astrology, your future is determined by the time at which you were born. Serious believers say that the exact time (down to the second) and location make a difference.

But in folk practice, details aren't so serious. For example, I'm a sheep (1955) and a Cancer (July). With that much information, I can check the newspaper's astrology section to see what the day will bring.

There is a simpler folk system in a Mother Goose rhyme, where a child's character is determined by the day of the week on which 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 a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

Let's look at the meaning of each description, along with some important variations.

  • "Monday's child is fair of face"
    • Children born on Monday will be good-looking. Some say this is because Monday is "Moon Day," so the face of the child will be fair (lovely) like the moon's face.
  • "Tuesday's child is full of grace"
    • This child is gifted with many talents. Life will be a happy affair from beginning to end.
  • "Wednesday's child is full of woe"
    • This is the only negative day in the week. It may be because Wednesday is "Wodin's Day"; Wodin starts with "woe," and Wodin (Odin) was a Norse god who suffered much. (Because no parent wants a child to live under such a curse, there is another reading: "Wednesday's child will fear no foe." Wodin suffered, but he was fearless through it all. This makes Wednesday into a more positive day.)
  • "Thursday's child has far to go"
    • This might sound negative, but the expression "You will go far in this life" is a very positive one: it means you will be a big success!
  • "Friday's child is loving and giving"
    • Frigg, for whom Friday was named, is like the Roman Venus: the goddess of love. So the child born on her day will be "loving and giving."
  • "Saturday's child works hard for a living"
    • People used to have a six-day workweek, with only Sunday off. So on Saturday, the last day of the week, everyone was tired.
  • "But the child born on the Sabbath Day/Is fair and wise and good and gay."
    • This line has many variations, including old words like "bonny" (fair) and "blithe" (happy). The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) was "The Lord's Day," and of course any child born then would be especially blessed by God.

Which day were YOU born on? (I'm Sunday's child.)


Read more:

Practice: Match the day to the behavior of people born on it:

  1. Sunday
  2. Friday
  3. Tuesday
  4. Saturday
  5. Wednesday
  6. Monday
  7. Thursday

  1. Evan just can't seem to catch a break, no matter what he does.
  2. Joy is an actress, singer, dancer--it seems she can do anything.
  3. People are always asking Marian for advice.
  4. Bill has a huge house and several luxury cars.
  5. Susan likes to give small gifts to friends.
  6. Brad often stays late at the office.
  7. People are always asking to take Mark's picture.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 10, 2008

This lesson received 192 visits on my old site between March, 2012, and July, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. e; 3. b; 4. f; 5. a; 6. g; 7. d