Monday, February 11, 2008

Wash on Monday Nursery Rhymes

Do You Wash on Monday?
Hanging the Washing
Hanging the Washing
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I most certainly do. Of course, it usually takes Tuesday also, and sometimes Wednesday as well. I never really thought about why I do laundry on Monday until I ran across some old nursery rhymes which I remember my mother and grandmother teaching me even before I started school. You may remember these:

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.


The Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum site has an explanation of just what “washing on Monday”entailed for pioneer women during the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder:

Washing the family's clothes was often done on Mondays, and it took the entire day. First water was heated in a metal boiler on a cook stove or in the fireplace. When the water came to a boil, soap shavings were added and the water was stirred until the soap dissolved. Next the clothes were dumped in. First, the whites were washed, then the colored clothes, then the heavy work clothes. The clothes boiled for ten minutes and were then removed and rubbed with homemade soap and scrubbed on a ribbed washboard. After all the clothes had been washed the tub was filled with fresh water to rinse the clothes with.[1]

Another version I found at Inheritage.org has a slightly different rendering and a possible explanation of its origin:

The women of the Mayflower came ashore on Monday, November 13, 1620 (two days after the men). The first thing they did was wash clothing made filthy from sixty-eight days at sea. This established an orderly ritual reflected by the following rhyme:

Wash on Monday,Iron on Tuesday,Bake on Wednesday,Brew on Thursday, (What a hoot! Must have been before the Temperance Movement)Churn on Friday,Mend on Saturday,Go to meeting on Sunday.[2]

Apparently, someone in history decided, although one may not get to the laundry on Monday, no one has an excuse for pushing it back until Thursday!

They That Wash on Monday
They that wash on Monday
Have all week to dry;

They that wash on Tuesday
Are not much awry;

They that wash on Wednesday
Are not so much to blame;

They that wash on Thursday
Wash for shame;

They that wash on Friday
Wash in need;

And they that wash
on Saturday?

Dirty they are indeed![3]


I found a much older version of this particular rhyme which gave quite a derogatory name for the person who washes on Saturday![4]

Our foremothers found, as others have, that having a certain day to do certain chores goes a long way to getting everything done. I have tried all manner of organizational tips and tricks for having a good schedule and always failed in the execution because of being overwhelmed. However, having one priority per day helped me get that priority done.

Not only will this work for your housekeeping, but for your business or home school as well. A priority-based schedule may work better for larger families and for ladies like me who just can’t cope with a stringent, minute-by-minute schedule.

Children may also be taught to prioritize their daily chores with the help of a little song like this one:

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning.

These are the chores we'll do this week,
Do this week,
Do this week.
These are the chores we'll do this week,
So early every morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes,
So early Monday morning.

This is the way we iron our clothes,
Iron our clothes,
Iron our clothes.
This is the way we iron our clothes,
So early Tuesday morning.

This is the way we scrub the floor,
Scrub the floor,
Scrub the floor.
This is the way we scrub the floor,
So early Wednesday morning.

This is the way we mend our clothes,
Mend our clothes,
Mend our clothes.
This is the way we mend our clothes,
So early Thursday morning.

This is the way we sweep the floor,
Sweep the floor,
Sweep the floor.
This is the way we sweep the floor,
So early Friday morning.

This is the way we bake our bread,
Bake our bread,
Bake our bread.
This is the way we bake our bread,
So early Saturday morning.

This is the way we get dressed up,
Get dressed up,
Get dressed up.
This is the way we get dressed up,
So early Sunday morning.

Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning[5]


Isn’t that cute! I love the fact that the author made Sunday a special day without chores. You could even substitute your own chores for those mentioned in the song. How about singing “This is the way we go to church, go to church, go to church...”?

Do you keep a schedule? Leave a comment telling us what you do to keep chores organized in your home or business.

[1]Laura Ingalls Wilder: Pioneering Journeys of the Ingalls Family, "Household Chores," Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, <http://www.hoover.nara.gov/LIW/pioneering/pioneering_pepin-chores.html> (11 February 2008).
[2]. Kerri McIntire, "Mother Goose Migrates to America," in The Almanack produced by Inheritage.org, <http://www.inheritage.org/almanack/b_goose.html> (11 February 2008).
[3] They That Wash on Monday, Land of Nursery Rhymes, <http://www.landofnurseryrhymes.co.uk/htm_pages/They%20That%20Wash%20on%20Monday.htm> (11 February 2008).
[4] James Orchard Halliwell, The Nursery Rhymes of England, (London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1886), p. 72, 73. Digital copy found at Google Book Search.
[5] Early Years Experience, "Nursery Rhymes," J. A. & M. A. Jones, <http://www.bigeyedowl.co.uk/show_songs.php?t=9&s=A&f=F> (11 February 2008).

3 comments:

  1. Thank you - I had typed into Google "They that wash on Monday" because I had forgotten the sequence after Tuesday - but remembered the Saturday one as being Oh - they're sluts indeed!
    As you said, Sunday was not mentioned in the rhyme because no one would ever dream of doing laundry on a Sunday...Sadly times have changed Maurice (Malaysia)

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  2. I always heard it said about Sat. OH, they are slow indeed!

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  3. That phrase actually makes more sense, because they are waiting until Saturday, the last day of the week, to get the wash done. Thank you, Lettergirl, for your contribution. :)

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