Good Friday

The exception to the rule of no work on Good Friday is the very widespread belief that this is the best possible day to do your gardening, for "all things put in the earth on a Good Friday will grow goody, and return to them with great increase" (Bray). Sowing peas and beans should be done on this day, and so should tree grafting; Herefordshire apple trees were always grafted on this day. Anything planted or grafted on Good Friday will grow well. It was even believed that beans sown today will have shoots above ground by Easter morning! (Whitlock. 1977). Somerset people said "they would rise on Easter Day with Christ" (Tongue). Some say that planting anything before Good Friday would be most unlucky (E L Chamberlain).

Observation of PARSLEY'S germination time had given a number of superstitions. Its seed is one of the longest to live in the ground before starting to come up. Further, the devil is implicated - it goes to the devil nine times, or seven, some say (Northcote, Clair). To offset this, various ruses are recommended. But the best is to sow the seed on Good Friday, when plants are temporarily free of the devil's power (Baker. 1980), or do it at the very least on a holy day (Tongue).

Pennsylvania Germans say that this is the proper day to sow cabbage seed (Fogel), and in Kentucky FLAX would be planted now (Thomas & Thomas), and this is certainly the lucky day to plant POTATOES, even though it is an odd choice horticulturally speaking, for there can be as much as a month's variation in the timing. But of course this has nothing to do with reason, and opinions differ anyway, for some say that if potatoes are dibbled on Good Friday, then you could expect nothing but a bad crop (Igglesden), and there was a feeling in Wales that any kind of gardening on this day was most unlucky. Yorkshire gardeners would never disturb the ground with iron today - the soil might bleed, and some of the Pennsylvania Germans used to say that no gardening should be done between Good Friday and Easter, the period during which Jesus lay buried. Nevertheless, most other people pressed on with it. SPOTTED MEDICK has Calvary Clover as one of its names. A German superstition, taken to America, said that Calvary Clover could only germinate if sown on Good Friday (M Baker. 1977). The red spot on the leaves also help in understanding the name. They are spots of Christ's blood that fell on them at Calvary. In Jamaica, it was said that if you go to a PHYSIC NUT tree at 12 o'clock on Good Friday morning, and stick a penknife in it, the juice that comes out of it will be blood (Beckwith. 1929).

An American (Illinois) belief is that cooking COW-PEAS on Good Friday will bring luck (H M Hyatt).

Churches used sometimes to be hung with "funeral YEW" on Good Friday (Dyer. 1876), and in Herefordshire, at Whitsuntide, branches used to be fastened to the tops of pews (Leather). The practice continued in Ireland from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, when sprigs of it were worn in the hat or buttonhole (Lowe).

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