Is It Bad Luck to Wash Clothes on Memorial Day Laundry Superstitions

Is It Bad Luck to Wash Clothes on Memorial Day? Laundry Superstitions

According to superstition, the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer in the United States, is not a beneficial day to wash your clothes. As people prepare for barbecues, beach days, and the season ahead, washing clothes on this day climbs to the top of the to-do list, hoping it will bring you luck through the season. But should you think twice before throwing in a load on Memorial Day? According to folklore and superstition, washing clothes on certain days and holidays—Memorial Day included—can actually bring bad luck. This article is going to explore is it bad luck to wash clothes on memorial day.


While it may sound far-fetched in our modern world, beliefs around laundry day luck have held strong for generations. Washing clothes on Memorial Day is often said to bring bad luck or symbolically “wash a loved one away.” Similarly, superstitions advise against washing clothes on religious holidays like Easter and Good Friday, Chinese New Year, the Sabbath, and more.

With warnings interwoven into tradition, culture, and spiritual practices, the notion that laundry days can influence your fortune certainly bears some weight. And for those skeptical about superstition, abiding by the wash day warnings certainly can’t hurt! Either way, reading up on the meaning and history behind laundry folklore makes for an interesting glimpse into customs from around the globe.

So should you avoid laundering clothes this Memorial Day? Is washing and drying a load on May 30 really enough to doom your fate or send a loved one away? Or is it just an intriguing old wives’ tale? We’ll explore the history and beliefs around the superstition to find out.

Is It Bad Luck to Wash Clothes on Memorial Day?

Memorial Day, a solemn day to honor fallen soldiers, often sparks questions about appropriate behavior. Among these, the age-old query arises: is it bad luck to wash clothes on Memorial Day?

The short answer is: no, there’s no basis for considering laundry unlucky on Memorial Day. This superstition likely stems from a blend of older traditions and misinterpretations. Let’s delve deeper:

Historical Roots:

  • Laundry Taboos: In many cultures, laundry held ritualistic significance, often associated with cleansing or mourning. Some believe washing clothes on certain days, like holidays or Sundays, disrespects the sacredness of the occasion.
  • Respect for the Deceased: Traditionally, washing clothes for the deceased was done after a specific period, signifying the end of mourning. This practice might have blurred into a general belief against laundry on days associated with remembrance.

Memorial Day Traditions:

  • Focus on Remembrance: Memorial Day’s primary purpose is to honor fallen soldiers and veterans. It’s a day for parades, visiting cemeteries, and participating in remembrance ceremonies, not necessarily one for specific household chores.
  • Evolving Traditions: Modern Memorial Day observances vary greatly. While some families maintain stricter traditions, others approach the day with a focus on community gatherings and barbecues. Laundry, therefore, falls outside the realm of specific Memorial Day “dos and don’ts.”

Respectful Observance:

While washing clothes isn’t inherently disrespectful on Memorial Day, remember the day’s significance. Here are some ways to show respect:

  • Attend remembrance ceremonies or parades.
  • Visit cemeteries and pay your respects to fallen soldiers.
  • Fly the American flag at half-staff.
  • Volunteer your time or donate to organizations supporting veterans.
  • Simply be mindful of the day’s somber purpose.

Washing clothes on Memorial Day is neither unlucky nor disrespectful. However, understanding the historical and cultural context behind the superstition, along with practicing respectful remembrance, allows you to honor the true meaning of the day. Remember, Memorial Day is about gratitude and honoring the sacrifices made for our freedom, not about household chores.

By providing informative and SEO-optimized content that addresses both the superstition and the proper ways to observe Memorial Day, you can create valuable and engaging content for your audience while respecting the solemnity of the occasion.

The Supposed Risks of Washing Clothes on Memorial Day

Why is Memorial Day included on the list of unlucky laundry days? Let’s break down some of the common beliefs around washing clothes on the federal American holiday:

Symbolically Washing Away Family Members

One of the most widely known Memorial Day wash day superstitions holds that running laundry could symbolically “wash away” a family member—sending them off to war, illness, or their death.

With Memorial Day focused on remembering fallen soldiers, washing clothes on the somber holiday is often seen as inviting loss, tragedy, or even death itself into the home. Some versions specifically warn against accidentally washing away a loved one into military service or a wartime fate.

Disrespecting & Forgetting the Dead

In a holiday devoted to commemoration and remembrance, indulging in everyday domestic tasks is also viewed by some as disrespectful. Laundry is mundane routine. Washing clothes distracts from and diminishes a day meant for solemn reflection; it’s seen as taboo.

Engaging in such routine behaviors on Memorial Day can suggest you’ve forgotten the holiday’s real meaning—remembering men and women in the armed services who gave their lives serving their country.

Religious Origins

While beliefs around Memorial Day wash days carry somber meaning, superstitions warning against washing clothes on certain days arise from various cultural and spiritual traditions. Religion provides insight into some of the more ubiquitous laundry day lore.

Not Working on the Sabbath

In Judaism and Christianity, Sabbath prohibitions on working have led to taboos around everything from cooking to laundering on holy days of worship and rest. According to scripture in Exodus 31:12-18, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Doing laundry is considered inappropriate physical labor violating Sabbath observances.

Starting Lent Off Clean

Some Catholic and Christian faiths traditionally tackled spring cleaning chores like laundering during the week prior to Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Starting off the 40-day fasting period with a clean, tidy household was viewed as bringing good fortune during the Lenten season and beyond.

According to Lithuanian-American folklore, for example, the household’s fate hangs in the balance based on the housewife’s efforts cleaning in preparation for Lent.

Worshipping the Water God on Chinese New Year

In Chinese culture, Chinese New Year brings a temporary reprieve from laundry duties. Washing clothes on the first two days of the new year disrespects the Chinese water god Tudigong, believed to inspect village water sources annually at this time.

By worshipping the water god and keeping his waters calm and static, villagers aimed to please Tudigong and ensure good health and prosperity. So all activity affecting village water sources—including doing laundry—stops for several days.

More Laundry Taboos From Around the Globe

Beyond religious holidays, wash day taboos abound across history and cultures. Here are some examples of days considered unlucky for cleaning clothes around the world:

  • Mondays: In Belgian culture, washing on Mondays can symbolize cleaning one’s winding sheet (burial shroud), cursing yourself or a family member to death
  • Fridays: Various superstitions consider Friday an inauspicious day for anything besides small laundry loads, thanks to religious beliefs linking it to Jesus’ suffering
  • 12th Night (January 5/6): In Spain’s Basque region and parts of Italy, washing during the Feast of the Epiphany on 12th Night foretells a year of washing for the church or as village caretaker
  • Ember Days: Laundering on these Catholic & Anglican days of fasting & prayer—including Ash Wednesday—signals death or ruined finances in old Irish folklore
  • December 29-31: Washing items on these days in Germany is seen as washing away good luck or loved ones before year’s end
  • New Year’s Day: Haitian, Italian, and Southern American superstitions claim washing clothing on January 1st will wash away a family member

Beyond formal holidays, some cultures simply view certain days of the week as bearing good or bad fortune for various household tasks like laundering clothes.

  • Tuesdays and Fridays frequently make appearances on no-wash day lists, thanks to connections to Mars and Venus in ancient astrology and mythology
  • In Romanian culture, only washing using previously heated water is allowed on Tuesdays and Fridays as a nod to those deities

Other taboos specifically relate to laundering under the cover of darkness rather than by day’s light. Night laundering provokes superstitions around everything from deterrents against witchcraft to a lightless death omen. Either way, for centuries many have found it best to avoid tempting fate by washing after sunset.

Wash Day Superstitions in Modern Times

In contemporary Western society, we favor logic, science, and proven fact over themes of mysticism, myth, and superstition. So should long-standing wash day taboos still give us pause in modern times?

It’s true that with international travel, immigration, and Internet-enabled globalization, the world grows more blended. Traditional beliefs now intermix and interconnect more fluidly across continental divides. Spiritual teachings, cultural mythologies, and even good old-fashioned magical thinking offer less-defined but no less intriguing lenses for approaching life’s mysteries in modern times.

Perhaps taking a brief pause from laundry on Memorial Day is less about abating bad luck than simply paying respect to the holiday’s tremendous human cost. Either way, the overlay of spiritual tradition and timeworn superstition certainly presents us with an opportunity for reflection.

So while we can chalk wash day taboos up to antiquated fears from the distant past, maybe we just haven’t yet found the science to quantify luck and fortune fully. Either way, a brief respite from laundry duty might not seem so foolish come Memorial Day. The only harm comes in tempting fate!

Frequently Asked Questions Around Memorial Day Wash Days

If you’re still wondering whether running the spin cycle is worth tempting superstitious wrath this Memorial Day, here are answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic:

Should you wash clothes on Memorial Day?

The decision is personal, but many opt to avoid laundering clothes on Memorial Day out of cultural traditions and respect for the solemn holiday.

What does washing clothes symbolize on Memorial Day?

Folklore states that washing laundry can “wash away” family members who have died serving in the military. Doing everyday chores distracts from the holiday’s focus on remembrance and commemoration.

Is washing clothes on holidays like Memorial Day actually bad luck?

No definitive evidence proves washing laundry on Memorial Day or other holidays directly results in bad luck. But engaging in distracting everyday tasks rather than practicing remembrance does disregard the holiday’s cultural and spiritual significance for many.

What other holidays and days of the week are considered bad luck for washing clothes?

Cultures and faiths around the world advise against washing clothes on certain religious observances and ceremonial occasions. Some examples include Easter, Chinese New Year, Ash Wednesday, and the Sabbath. Days like Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays also provoke superstitions across various traditions.

Should you hand wash the necessary laundry on Memorial Day?

If keeping Memorial Day solemn conflicts with managing necessary laundry, hand washing select essentials discretely indoors shows care and avoids overtly engaging technology and tools that visibly violate the day’s introspective spirit.

Does letting laundry go partially unwashed over Memorial Day weekend really affect your family’s fortune and fate?

No direct cause and effect means leaving the laundry unwashed dooms your destiny or luck. But fully observing Memorial Day by pausing household tasks not only respects the holiday; it may renew your own mindfulness around the sacrifices made by armed service men and women to protect the nation and liberty.

Conclusion: Keep It Clean By Keeping It Simple This Memorial Day

While the choice is ultimately yours, erring on the side of caution and cutting back the usual wash schedule seems harmless this Memorial Day. Observing the cultural tradition shows respect while allowing you to fully immerse in Memorial Day events and customs free of routine distractions.

And if superstition and magical thinking leave you squeamish, a brief respite from machinery and routine, either way, makes room for mindful reflection during an important holiday for remembrance. Tabling the laundry in exchange offers a therapeutic change of pace during a hectic season.

So play it safe this Memorial Day. Tend to launder in the days ahead and keep the holiday itself simple, stripped down, and focused on commemoration. Once Tuesday dawns, routine tasks get the green light again. But on Memorial Day itself? Do nothing that diminishes a sacred tradition centered around paying respects to lives sacrificed for liberty.

The fallen soldiers honored each Memorial Day protected nation and country so activities like chore freedom could be a mainstay of American life. Avoiding laundry on the federal holiday devoted to military members who perished serving our country seems a small price to pay to observe tradition, express gratitude, and celebrate hard-won freedoms ensuring safety at home.

What do you think? Weigh in on lavender-scented superstitions and share your own wash-day beliefs! Did we spin the right yarn on the meaning of the Memorial Day laundry myth? Are there other wash day omens or taboos we should hang out to dry next? One thing is certain – when it comes to the accumulated wisdom of lore and culture around laundering on ceremonial days, we’ve just dipped our toe into truly tempestuous tides!

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