Sunday, March 21, 2010

Friday Child Sacrifice

Today I Stumbledupon this page of odd facts, at it includes this little gem:
The Anglo-Saxons believed Friday to be such an unlucky day that they ritually slaughtered any child unfortunate enough to be born on that day.

I've never even heard such a claim before. Does anyone know where it comes from?

10 comments:

  1. Given the quality of some of the other comments on there, I don't think it would have to come from anywhere before urban myth.
    I particularly like this etymology: It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on their testicles when taking an oath. The modern term 'testimony' is derived from this tradition.

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  2. I looked all over for that urban myth on the inter-webs, and nothing. I wonder if this guy just made it up, or mis-remembered something he'd heard before.

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  3. An amalgam of "all mediaeval Jews ritually slaughtered children", "some culture I heard of once considers Friday an unlucky day to be born" and "people in England long ago were called Anglo-Saxons", perhaps!

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  4. I think it's probably a misremembered combination of "In Medieval Europe Friday was considered an unlucky day" and "Anglo-Saxons named it Friday after Freya."

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  5. I did once hear the one about the etymology of the word 'testis' from a classics professor. I don't know what his source was, though.

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  6. They're wrong about pay toilets too - obviously never heard the euphemism "to spend a penny"...

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  7. The website does have a "Trivia Links and Reference Sources" page [http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2sI046/home.bitworks.co.nz/trivia/human.htm], but, alas, the writer does not tell which source goes with which 'fact'. Some of the sources are, well...
    I'm sorry, but I don't consider "Trivial Pursuits [sic] - Genius Edition" to be a highly respectable source. The "Smithsonian Institute", yes; The "Book of Lists - 90s Edition", no.

    *sigh*

    And St. Simon Stylites spent years atop a column not a flagpole. Yes, still a bit crazy, if you ask me [and I am Catholic] but a bit wider than a flagpole.

    *sigh*

    Well, the nice thing about the web is you can publish anything you want. It is also the worst thing about the web.

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  8. I've never heard that claim before either. Sounds like myth to me as well.

    What about this one, "The childrens' nursery rhyme 'Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses' actually refers to the Black Death which killed about 30 million people in the fourteenth-century." I've never heard that either.

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  9. Anonymous2:07 AM

    i'm pretty sure friday is unlucky in the canterbury tales. Maybe also something to do with the Good Friday sacrifice (maybe a mass - eating the host on the day Christ was killed).

    Frejr, who often gets confused with his sister, or is her, or whatever, was associated with fridays. According to http://euroheritage.net/factsofmythology.shtml


    "The ritual of the "Christmas ham" (or Jul Ham), still practiced today in Germany, England, and Scandinavia, was originally intended to reflect the sacrifice of a boar or pig to the god Freyjr as described by Adam von Bremen, a key source of late pre-Christian Germanic religion."

    And I think John Skinner says something about fridays in Ritual Matricide: A Study of the Origins of Sacrifice (1961). American Imago, 18:71-102). But I can't get access.

    Maybe these sorts of things were floating around in a brain?

    I love "Julius Caesar wore a laurel wreath to cover the onset of baldness."
    Possibly part of the reason (the existing connotations of the wreath maybe being just a teensy bit more important), but...Prove It.
    Also, it wasn't a very effective cover!

    And "It is illegal to play tennis in the streets of Cambridge." I imagine it's illegal to disrupt traffic in many places. Phrasing it this way is about as silly as saying "it is illegal in Australia to steal a car if your name is Bob," which is true, but is also true if your name's not Bob.

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  10. It certainly doesn't square with my recollection that the day is named for Freya/Frigga, but it is the sort of nonsense that sticks in the mind and gets repeated enough to seem true. I'd check it out at Answers.com ... if I weren't at work that is.

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