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?


  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.

  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.

  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!

  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."

  5. Anonymous5:41 PM

    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.

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

  7. The website does have a "Trivia Links and Reference Sources" page [], 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.


    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.


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

  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.

  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

    "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.

  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 ... if I weren't at work that is.