“Friday's a free day. A woman's day.” Neil Gaiman, American Gods
I'm starting with that quote, though really I have no idea what it means. But it's very tantalising and I'll leave it there to think on. A woman's day? And why does that make it free? Is that a pro women statement or misogynist?
Fridays are special in this house, although they are also always a tiny bit confusing. After all we have retired and fundamentally every day is the same. Life is a weekend so all the usual Friday tropes just don't apply. Confusing, because - well these days I barely know what day it is, because of them being fundamentally all the same. Like this morning I came out of the supermarket and saw all the children playing in the school playground next door. In my head I was in weekend mode and so it was, not exactly a shock, but odd to see children at school.
So we do sort of try, albeit unconsciously to keep the week and weekend different, starting with Friday. Theoretically we only drink wine at the weekend - it's our nod to being abstemious. I say theoretically because often we find on Monday that there is still some wine left in the bottle we opened the day before, and also there are occasions like book groups, and lunch with friends, that definitely call for a glass of wine. Anyway Friday is also part of our weekend - it's the day on which we open a fresh bottle of wine. Although never that Special bottle of wine. I'm still working on that. Tonight it's this Jacob's Creek Cool Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Pretty bottle, and, if I remember correctly an unsensational, but perfectly nice white wine which is most appropriate for Friday night pasta. Nothing fancy but something nice.
For Friday dinner is also casual and well worn as it were. Often it's a fridge raid quiche, but I've done that already this week - it was good incidentally - a mix of smoked trout, shredded and precooked cabbage, spring onions, cornichons, horseradish and lemony butter. It should maybe have had a bit more lemon, but yes, interesting. It encourages me to try using cabbage a bit more imaginatively in future.
Tonight though it will be a fridge raid pasta. I think veggies that need help - spinach mostly, mushrooms, some tomato sauce and chorizo. That's all I've thought of so far, but maybe something different will come to mind. Anyway it's sort of comfort food because it's Friday. Somehow it's an especially relaxing meal at the end of the week. Even though really the concept of week and weekend is now redundant in this house.
It's a happy day for us. Which is odd because at least some of the 'traditional' ideas about Friday are the absolute opposite. Good Friday for example. Now you really cannot get grimmer than that. And yet it actually became a tradition for Roman Catholics and especially priests, to plant potatoes on Good Friday.
"an older tradition says that after the potato's introduction to Europe in the 16th Century from the Peruvian Andes, Protestants in the UK and Ireland would not plant potatoes because they were not mentioned in the Bible. The Catholics though, were OK about it as long as the seed potatoes were sprinkled with Holy Water, and planted on Good Friday, so that they were baptised." Earth Apple Jane
Wikipedia suggests, without certainty, that it might have something to do with the resurrection to come - plant something and it will grow. But, as Earth Apple Jane points out, actually Good Friday is not a good time to plant potatoes - in the Northern Hemisphere anyway - Christianity is a Northern Hemisphere religion after all - at least when it comes to traditions and tying in with the the seasons and old pagan festivals. Seeing that name Earth Apple Jane though does remind me that the French for potatoes is 'pommes de terre' - earth apples and apples are of course associated with Adam and Eve and original sin, which, of course, led to Good Friday. Well you could ponder for a long time on that.
But whilst we are still in the realm of the pagans - sort of - let me remind you that Friday is named for the Norse goddess Frigg via the old English - frīġedæġ - which means Frigg's day. Such a harsh name for a goddess who is otherwise associated with love and other gentle things. Here she is spinning clouds in a 19th century painting. She was also the mother of Balder who is a Christlike figure, which rather associates her with the Virgin Mary I suppose, although there is no suggestion of virginity here. (Odin was the father by the way.) And even the Europeans with latin based languages dedicate their Friday to Venus - goddess of love - venerdi, vendredi and so on. Maybe Friday was the day for orgies at the end of the working week. Who knows. I don't think that theory would stand however, because it is only in recent times that there has been a weekend at all. Sunday was the only day of rest - as it was for God.
Back to the grim though and before leaving Christianity. Religious tradition has it that Friday is a fasting day - or at least a day when one didn't eat meat - and so one ate fish on Friday. And we certainly did in our childhood home. I'm guessing that the tradition lingers on and that fish and chip shops do a roaring trade on Fridays. I have to say that my brief glance at available fish in the supermarket this morning did not come up with much. So I didn't buy, even though I had seen a very tempting pasta recipe in this week's Guardian newsletter from Rachel Roddy - Linguine with white fish and citrus juice. Fortunately there was no fish to tempt me, because I do have to use some of those things in my fridge. I have noted it though and may well give it a go soon.
There are a whole lot of other religious traditions associated with Friday - a day of gathering and communion for Moslems, the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset, for the Jews, and also something for the HIndus. And then there is Friday the 13th - said to be horrendously unlucky - I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the combination of Good Friday and the number 13 which is an unlucky number. A double whammy. Anyway it's been very successfully turned into one of those movie franchises, with endless reprises of the same thing and I'm pretty sure that even the most unsuperstitious amongst us pause briefly as we recognise the date. If we do. Because in retirement you never know what day of the month it is either. Would I take a flight on a Friday the 13th? I'm not sure I would even though my rational mind tells me this is nonsense.
The Americans have introduced us to the concept of Black Friday, which seems a very odd name to me. It's the Friday after Thanksgiving apparently and the official start of Christmas shopping. Wikipedia posits that it's called Black Friday because this when the accounts of retailers turn from negative (red) to positive (black). And it's spread to here now but as another misnomer because it doesn't seem to actually be confined to the Friday in question.
The Americans have also created a chain of restaurants - a tiny step above fast food I guess - called TGIF - Thank God It's Friday, if you are acronym challenged. There used to be one near here at Doncaster Shopping Town. I don't know if it's still there. A slightly stupid name it seems to me because it tends to make people think it's a Friday destination, which means not the rest of the week - which I would have thought was bad for business. I suppose they are trying to make you think that if you go there you will get that happy feeling of 'the weekend starts here.'
And talking about happy Fridays, there is or maybe was a rather cute looking computer called Happy Friday:
"Join Prim on his epic adventure through unique lands to recover the lost donuts stolen by a grumpy dragon. Roll, jump, smash and explore a beautiful physics based world!"
And look there's food involved - indeed food is the prize.
More relaxation for the weekend. Mind you, these days I would think that the weekend is not particularly relaxing if both adults in a family household are working. The weekend must be full of all the household chores you can't do during the week, let alone all the sports and other activities that the children might be involved in.
But we are over that. And yet, we still have, somehow or other, an end of week relaxing feeling to the day. Not that I'm moaning about that.
“Let Friday show you where the smiles are in life.” Anthony T. Hincks