Have you ever wondered where the names of the days came from? Well in many cases they're derived from Teutonic and Roman deities of ancient times. The early Romans used Saturday as the start of the week for reasons unknown to us! (If you know, let us know in the comments!) Then, as the worshipping of the sun became more commonplace, the Sun's day (Sunday) became the first day of the week traditionally before the introduction of the working week and weekends became commonplace in our modern life as we know.
Starting with Sunday. Sunday originally derives from the Latin 'dies Solis', meaning 'Sun's day' the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It is also called Dominica (Latin) meaning the day of God. The Romance languages, those derived from the ancient Latin language (French, Spanish, Italian) still retain the root. In christianity this is seen as the day of rest and the holy day in which to go to worship.
Monday, however no ones particular favourite now-a-days, derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'Monandaeg' meaning 'the moon's day’. It the West it is commonly seen as the first day of the week, however some Islamic countries it is the second. It is also translated in many Slavic languages including Russian and Polish as ‘After-Sunday’.
Tuesday, following Monday as the 2nd or 3rd day depending on the cultural viewpoint, is so named after the Norse god Tyr - the God of single combat in Ancient Nordic Culture. The Romans named this day after their war-god Mars: 'dies Martis'. Perhaps this could be seen as the most productive day? Attack the day as they say.
And so Wednesday was so named to honour the King of the Norse Gods Wodan (Odin as more commonly known) The Romans called it 'dies Mercurii', after their god Mercury. The Latin translations stems into common languages, Spanish and French for example that translate Wednesday into Mercredi (French). Ancient Eastern cultures also refer to Wednesday as Mercury, in Japanese Wednesday is ‘Sui-Yobi [romanji]’ meaning ‘water day’ as Mercury the ‘water star’
Thursday - named 'Fater' the Norse god Thor. In Norse languages this day is called 'Torsdag'. Most Germanic languages associate Thor or Torsdag with Thursday, Again Latin follows suit of translating from their own Gods, Jupiter, the equivalent of Thor in the Ancient Religions. The Romans named this day 'dies Jovis' (Jove's day) after Jove, or Jupiter, their most important god. Now in common Latin based languages it is known Jeuves (Spanish) or Jeudi (French).
In honour of the goddess Frigg the germanic languages gave Friday it's well known and popular name (who doesn't love Friday?). In Old High German this day was called 'Frigedag'. To the Romans this day was sacred to the goddess Venus, and was known as 'dies Veneris'. It is also the only female name translation on the Roman and Nordic weekly calendar.
Saturday was named by the Roman’s as ’dies Saturni', 'Saturn's day' by the ancient Romans in honour of Saturn which according to history controlled the first hour in the day, fitting as the first day in the week originally. In Anglo-saxon 'Sater daeg'. The Roman’s believed that celestial bodies controlled the hours of the day as they began to switch from an 8 day week to a 7. Germanic translations also sit similarly as viewed as direct parallels to the Roman Gods and the translation sat happily between the two!
There you have it, the history of the weekdays…Not bad eh. Impress your friends & family at your next meet up. So next time you flick open your custom made TOAD diary, point out these little interesting facts to your colleagues.
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