"Some days are considered here unlucky upon which to begin any work of
Explains all the flat-headed children with a birthday on Dec 29th: all those
mothers-to-be sitting firmly on rocks through the 28th, waiting for a better
day to start!
2009/1/9 Neil McLeod <[log in to unmask]>
> Dennis King wrote:
>> I'm just reading _Company of Liars_ by Karen Maitland, a novel set in
>> England in 1348 at the outset of the Black Death. One chapter begins "The
>> following day was Childermas, named for the day King Herod massacred the
>> Holy Innocents...."
> None of the quotations s.v. "crosta" in DIL appear to be terribly old. Is
>> there any early Irish literary evidence regarding this day, perhaps under
>> another name?
> It is referenced (albeit obliquely) in the Old Irish 'Félire Oengusa' under
> the accepted date of December 28. That quatrain makes reference to 'in
> maccáin ó Bethil', "the little children of Bethelhem". The day itself was,
> of course, celebrated throughout the medieval Church, but the idea that it
> was inauspicious was not so well-distributed. There is nothing in the Félire
> or glosses to it to suggest the day itself was considered inauspicious in
> Ireland, though it is not much to go on.
> Not that ti helps at all, but I did find this is evidence from the late
> 19th century:
> - from Limerick: "The Irsh have a 'cross day day of the year' ... On that
> day the ... housewife will not warp thread ... and the Irish say that
> anything begun on that day must have an unlucky ending" - 1873 N & Q 4th
> ser. XII 185
> - from the Aran Islands: "Some days are considered here unlucky upon which
> to begin any work of importance ... even to bury the dead ... one of those
> days [is] the feast of the Holy Innocents ... No person will be buried on
> that day in any week throughout the following year." Proceeings of the Royal
> Irish Academy 3rd ser. II 820.
> Both of these are taken from Opie and Tatem's excellent 'Dictionary of
> Superstitions' at p 78 (which has numerous other instances from Britain).
Aled Llion Jones
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