Friday, April 2, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Good Friday Folklore

As early as the 2nd century, Good Friday has been observed by Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. It was the most mournful day of the year, set aside for fasting and penance. It has evolved into a happy spring holiday when schools and businesses are closed.

In southwest Tennessee, it was the day to plant your garden. Root crops should have already been planted, but if because of weather or other reasons they were not, Good Friday was the last chance to get them in the ground if you wanted a bountiful crop. Green beans, squash, and cucumbers were planted on Good Friday. We were envied by our relatives in Michigan and Indiana; their soil still way too cold to plant anything.

English folklore held that the devil had no power to spoil crops planted on a holy day. Others from the same region thought it sin to disturb the earth in any way on that day.

For women, washing clothes were forbidden. Anything hung out to dry was in danger of becoming spotted with blood. I plan to hang out some sheets later, so I will test this theory. Usually, the only thing they are spotted with is bird poop!

It was a great day for baking, but then, what day isn't? It long ago became a tradition to bake "Cross" buns on Good Friday. The name later changed to "Hot Cross" buns by street vendors.
These buns were thought to be lucky or blessed by the holy day.

Cross buns were allowed to harden and one was hung from the ceiling in every house. This protected the house from fire.

Wives of fishermen gave their men a bun to take with them; it had the power to protect them from shipwreck.

It is said that an egg laid on Good Friday will stay fresh for a year. I am NOT going to test that one!

If you know of other folklore, please tell me about it in the comments.

Have a great Easter holiday! Make the world a better place...go out and plant something!