A Russian Folktale of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 779J*
D. L. Ashliman
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There was once a certain woman who did not pay due reverence to Mother Friday, but set to work on a distaff full of flax, combing and whirling it. She span away till dinner time, then suddenly sleep fell upon her -- such a deep sleep! And when she had gone to sleep, suddenly the door opened and in came Mother Friday, before the eyes of all who were there, clad in a white dress, and in such a rage! And she went straight up to the woman who had been spinning, scooped up from the floor a handful of the dust that had fallen out of the flax, and began stuffing and stuffing that woman's eyes full of it! And when she had stuffed them full, she went off in a rage -- disappeared without saying a word.
When the woman awoke, she began squalling at the top of her voice about her eyes, but couldn't tell what was the matter with them.
The other women, who had been terribly frightened, began to cry out, "Oh, you wretch, you! You've brought a terrible punishment on yourself from Mother Friday."
Then they told her all that had taken place.
She listened to it all, and then began imploring, "Mother Friday, forgive me! Pardon me, the guilty one! I'll offer you a taper, and I'll never let friend or foe dishonor you, Mother!"
Well, what do you think? During the night, back came Mother Friday and took the dust out of that woman's eyes, so that she was able to get about again. It's a great sin to dishonor Mother Friday -- combing and spinning flax, forsooth!
- Source (books.google.com): W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales (London: Smith, Elder, and Company, 1873), p. 200.
- Source (Internet Archive): W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales (London: Smith, Elder, and Company, 1873), p. 200.
- Ralston's source: Aleksandr Afanasyev.
- Afanasyev (the transliteration Afanas'ev as well as other spellings are also used) was the Slavic counterpart to the brothers Grimm. Between the years 1855 and 1873 he published some 640 Russian and Ukrainian folktales.
- Note by Ralston: "Friday ... was undoubtedly consecrated by the old Slavonians to some goddess akin to Venus or Freyja, and her worship in ancient times accounts for the superstitions now connected with the name of Friday." (p. 198)
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Revised January 6, 2019.