Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go
Friday's child is loving and giving
Saturday's child works for its living
and a child that's born on the Sabbath day
is fair and wise and good and gay.
There are among us the statistically-obsessed, those who as youths read the World Almanac for entertainment and who grew up to partake from such informational cornucopias as the National Vital Statistics Report. Being one of these informational junkies, I was perusing my NVSR last summer and happened across the information summarized in the graph below. What this chart reveals is the likelihood of being born on any given day of the week by race of mother and type of delivery. The data is standardized so that if it were all a matter of chance, that infants are as likely to arrive on Thursdays as on Sundays, then each day would bring 100 births. But such is not the case. The solid dark line, for instance, shows that white women have only 83 natural deliveries on Saturdays and 73 on Sundays.
Around the world we find many cultures holding beliefs about the connection between individuals' day of birth and their personality and temperament. These tenets did not arise out of groundless superstitions but rather evolved out of the experiences of many generations; they are time-tested recipes for successfully dealing with social life and its cast of characters.. The Ashanti of Ghana go so far as to actually name their children according to the day of the week on which they are born. So your new boss is a Kwaku, a Wednesday's child? Watch out! They're aggressive and have hair-trigger tempers (perhaps because they are so full of woe).
So what are the social consequences of there being fewer weekend children? Their disappearance would be good news were we all Islamic, of a faith that designates Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday to be evil days. On the other hand, according to the poem above, disappearing from the social landscape are "the fair and wise" and those who work for a living. Hum, could this dearth of weekenders be the reason why we have so many problems of welfare and morality? Could it account for the past few decades of Presidential crises which have so fueled our culture of cynicism and distrust?
Of the 42 men who have occupied the White House, one would expect by chance 6 to have been born on any given day of the week. Eight, however, were Saturday babies--and only 3 were woeful Kwakus.) Of the 8 Saturday children, 4 were Civil War generals. The Sunday products include such charismatic figures Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Woodrow Wilson. Interestingly, however, until the controversial election of George Bush Jr., a Saturday fellow, we have not had a weekend President since Wilson. In fact, fully 10 of Wilson's 15 successors were Monday and Thursday children.
The photogenic Monday Presidents include Hoover, FDR, Ford, Reagan, and that rumored magnet of the opposite sex, Clinton. The "Thursdays" who have so "far to go" include such notables as Warren G. Harding (whose extramarital romps led to a coat closet conception), Coolidge (best remembered for his response to one who had bet that he could make ol' Silent Cal speak more than five words: "You lose"), Lyndon Johnson, and-- somehow not surprisingly--Richard Nixon. Prospects for Bob Dole, another Thursday product, winning the White House in 1996 were doomed from the start--as was the case for Kwaku Al Gore. How did Kerry lose? He, like Bush, is a Saturday child and ties go to the incumbent.
Not one to sanction stupidity, but perhaps we need to take into account this item from birth certificates when selecting our leaders. It certainly would be as rational as the way we now go about this business. When investigating why people voted the way they did following Ronald Reagan's 1984 election victory, psychologists found feelings to be three to four times more potent than issues or party identification.
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