Monday, March 06, 2006

Wash day

Bebe usually gets one book and one goodnight song before bed - I borrowed this custom from my sister - and the other night I found myself singing "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush" to her. This isn't a regular chanson on my repertoire, and at first I thought perhaps I was remembering the verses incorrectly. But no, I had it right: each verse is about a day of the week and its accompanying chore. Apparently for many years this is how housework was done: Monday was wash day, Tuesday was for ironing, Wednesday was mending, Thursday was for shopping, Friday was cleaning, Saturday was baking, and Sunday was for church and rest.

Grandma was telling me, a while ago, that wash day became a competition between neighbors when she was growing up and even when she was rearing my father and my aunts. The idea was to be the first on the block to have your wash hanging on the line on Monday morning. I suppose it showed what an industrious, hard worker you were if you got up earlier than everyone else and did your work. In Grandma's neighborhood many rumors circulated about the Dutch neighbors who supposedly soaked their wash on Sundays to get a head start on Mondays. Sacrelig, apparently.

As if happens, Bebe and I usually do the laundry on Mondays. I just like to get it out of the way so I don't need to think about it during the rest of the week. If I let it go longer than a week between washings the piles grow too big and Bebe runs out of clothing.

I typed "this is the day we wash our clothes" into Google this morning and came across the site for The New Homemaker. It's an interesting concept, and I may do a little more exploring on the site, but the word "homemaker" and the sweet calico background really set my teeth on edge. It's all a little too 1950's June Cleaver for me. I'd rather be the Speed Queen. Busy.


  1. Hmm, I always to my mending and darning on Thursdays, while I’m watching my “stories” on my Philco B&W TV set. On Mondays I go to the Beauty Parlor for my weekly “cold wave.” Remember, you commented last time we saw each other how lovely my hair-do was?

  2. I never knew that song was known outside Scandinavia! Here it is about a juniper bush, a common song to sing while going around the Christmas tree, and doing little pantomime gestures about washing clothes etc.

  3. I set your teeth on edge?! As Daffy Duck once said, "You don't know me vewwy well." ;) Look around a little more, it's feminist homemaking, baby!
    --Lynn from The New Homemaker