Have you ever wondered why Monday comes after Sunday, or why Wednesday is called "hump day"? The names of the days of the week are something that we take for granted, but have you ever stopped to think about their origins and how they came to be? In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating history behind the names of the days of the week and how they have evolved over time.
The concept of a week as we know it today, with seven days, has been in existence for thousands of years. However, the names of the days of the week have varied across different cultures and civilizations. In this article, we'll explore the history and evolution of the names of the days of the week.
The Origin of the Days of the Week
The seven-day week can be traced back to ancient Babylon, where it was used to track the phases of the moon. The Babylonians named the days of the week after the seven celestial bodies visible to the naked eye – the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.
The table below explains the etymology and origin of the names of the days of the week:
|Day||Origin and Etymology|
|Sunday||Named after the Sun, the most important celestial object to many ancient cultures, including the Babylonians and the Romans.|
|Monday||Named after the Moon, which was associated with the goddess Luna in Roman mythology.|
|Tuesday||Named after the Germanic god Tiw, who was associated with war and the sky. In Norse mythology, Tiw was known as Tyr.|
|Wednesday||Named after the Germanic god Woden, who was associated with wisdom, magic, and poetry. In Norse mythology, Woden was known as Odin.|
|Thursday||Named after the Germanic god Thor, who was associated with thunder, lightning, and storms. In Norse mythology, Thor was known as Thor.|
|Friday||Named after the goddess Frigg or Freya, who was associated with love, fertility, and beauty. In Norse mythology, Frigg was known as Frigg and Freya as Freya.|
|Saturday||Named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Saturday was traditionally a day for farmers to rest and celebrate.|
The Influence of Planetary Gods
The ancient Greeks and Romans adopted the Babylonian seven-day week and named the days of the week after their respective planetary gods. The Greeks named the days after Helios (the Sun), Selene (the Moon), Ares (Mars), Hermes (Mercury), Zeus (Jupiter), Aphrodite (Venus), and Cronus (Saturn). The Romans adopted these names but replaced Cronus with their god of agriculture, Saturn.
The Germanic Influence on the Days of the Week
The Germanic people, who lived in what is now Germany and Scandinavia, also adopted the seven-day week but named the days after their gods and goddesses. The English names for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday come from the Germanic gods Tiw, Woden, Thor, and Frigg, respectively.
The Norse Gods and the Days of the Week
The Norse people, who lived in Scandinavia, also had their own names for the days of the week, which were based on their gods and goddesses. The names for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Scandinavian languages come from the Norse gods Tyr, Odin, Thor, and Freyja, respectively.
The Roman Influence on the Days of the Week
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman names for the days of the week persisted throughout Europe. This was due to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which used Latin as its official language. Latin names for the days of the week are still used in many languages today, including Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
The Christianization of the Days of the Week
In the early Christian Church, Sunday was considered the day of rest and worship, and it was named after the "Lord's Day." The other days of the week were named after the planets, which were associated with different pagan gods. This caused some controversy among Christians, who believed that the names of the days of the week should not be associated with pagan gods.
Modern-Day Weekday Names
In modern times, the English names for the days of the week have evolved from their ancient origins. Sunday and Monday still retain their original names, but the other days have been modified over time. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday have retained their Germanic and Norse names, but Saturday was named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.
Fun Facts About the Days of the Week
- The word "weekday" comes from the Old English word "wicu," meaning "turn" or "cycle."
- In Japan, the days of the week are named after the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and void) and the moon.
- In some cultures, the seven-day week is not used. For example, in many Islamic countries, the week starts on Saturday and ends on Friday.
- In ancient Egypt, the week was ten days long, and each day was named after a different deity.
The names of the days of the week have a rich and varied history that spans across different cultures and civilizations. From the Babylonians to the Romans, and from the Germanic people to the Norse, the names of the days have evolved over time. Today, we still use the seven-day week, but the names of the days have been modified to suit our modern needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Monday called Monday?
Monday is named after the Moon, which was associated with the goddess Luna in Roman mythology.
Why is Wednesday called "hump day"?
Wednesday is called "hump day" because it is in the middle of the workweek, and getting over the "hump" of Wednesday means that the weekend is in sight.
Why is Saturday named after Saturn?
Saturday is named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, because Saturday was traditionally a day for farmers to rest and celebrate.
Why are the days of the week different in different cultures?
The names of the days of the week vary across different cultures because they were influenced by different religions, mythologies, and traditions.
When did the seven-day week become widespread?
The seven-day week became widespread during the Roman Empire and was adopted by the early Christian Church.