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The Days of The Week – Part II Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Culture, English Vocabulary

Yesterday I discussed the origin of the names of the days of the week in English.  To continue on this theme, today I am going to introduce you to a popular child’s nursery rhyme about the days of the week.  Young children in the United States are often taught to recite* the days of the week at a young age, often in preschool.  This nursery rhyme is one way to help children remember the days of the week in the correct order.  This is considered as fortune-telling rhyme, because it makes predictions about a person based on the day of the week he or she was born.  This nursery rhyme is written in an older style of English than we currently use today in everyday conversation, so below the rhyme I have defined/explained for you the meaning of all of the words that are in bold in the rhyme.

“Monday’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 who is born on the Sabbath,
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

fair of face = pretty or handsome
grace =  simple and elegant
woe = grief, sorrow, or sadness
far to go = to have a long time or distance to go to reach one’s destination (This refers to the god Thor – related to Thursday – who had a long way to go because he couldn’t get over the rainbow to heaven.)
Sabbath = Sunday  (This is considered a day for worship and rest in most Western and Christian cultures.)
bonny = attractive
blithe = happy or joyous
gay = in older dialects of English this word means merry or cheerful

What day of the week were you born on?  Do you think the predictions in this rhyme have anything to do with how your life story or personality has played out?  Probably not.  It is interesting to think about how we attribute certain thoughts or ideas to certain days of the week and how these ideas differ based on culture.  Tomorrow I will be discussion what different days of the week mean to people in American culture in the current day.

* recite = repeat aloud

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.