Holy Innocent’s Day

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5 Responses

  1. kathmax says:

    Re: Holy Innocent’s Day
    Does anyone know the reason as to why Holy Innocents Day is said to be unlucky?

    Got the answer?
    Please let me know.


  2. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Holy Innocent’s Day

    The Holy Innocents were essentially the first Christian martyrs, the children slain by Herod at Bethlehem whilst trying to kill Jesus.  Depending upon natioanal and church variations It is celebrated on either 27, 28 or 29 December.

    Why it is considered unlucky may have its roots in the fact it was very young children that were slaughtered.  Apparently Cornish housewives would refuse to wash clothes on Holy Innocents Day and it was considered very unlucky by fishermen.

  3. Mauro says:

    Re: Holy Innocent’s Day
    In Medieval calendars the 28th of December (mind back then the Julian calendar was still in use) was considered a dies mali or dies Aegyptiacus, an "unlucky" day.

    These unlucky days had allegedly been found by Egyptian astrologers (hence the name) at the time of the Roman Empire by observing and studying the stars. While we do know that the Romans had a very strong belief in divination of any kind and believed in both dies fausti (auspicious days) and dies infausti (inauspicious days) they preferred to have these dates "tailored" to their individual needs by going out and consulting an astrologer or soothsayer instead of relying on fixed dates.

    Of course Childermass wasn’t the only dies Aegyptiacus on the calendar: each month had two of them, days on which, if possible, no new ventures were to be started. How exactly it came to be regarded as the unluckiest of all, is still unclear.

    PS: there’s a delightful Italian film The Gospel According to Pontius Pilatus, loosely based on the play of the same title by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, which has a magnificent scene about the Holy Innocents. Pontius Pilatus, the aged, careworn Roman governor, is questioning Haerod’s son about his father’s crimes. The son, portrayed at to hint some kind of mental disorder, goes on a memorable tirade about how his father may have killed "four, at most five baby boys" and hence was not guilty of massacre but "at most of infanticide".

  4. Richard says:

    The most plausible origin of this is probably fishing villages along the Cornish coast, always alert in ages past to the threat of French or Irish pirates, identifying with Bethlehem families’ fear of the arrival of Herod’s men, and not wanting their clothes drying on lines or spread on hedges to advertise the presence of children?

  5. Catherine May says:

    I am Cornish and I remember in the 50s my Mother always refused to do any washing on Innocents Day for fear of washing one of the family away

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