Days: A History Of Time

By Sharon

The history of the names of the days of the week is a tangled one. The Greeks named the days of the week after their gods, but when the Romans were supreme, they substituted the names of their favorite gods for the original Greek names. However, with English being a Germanic language, it’s perhaps no surprise that our current week has several days named after Germanic gods.

Sunday was the day of the sun, whether you were Latin, Greek or Germanic, while Monday was the day of the moon. Tuesday is named after the God of War (who was Mars in Latin and Ares in Greek). However, the English form comes from Tiu/Tiwa, the Germanic/English name of the god of war and the sky.

Wednesday is named after Wodin,  the main Teutonic god, who is similar to the Norse god, Odin. In Latinate languages such as French and Spanish, this day is named after the messenger of the gods, Mercury. Thursday is named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In Latinate languages, this day is named after the chief Roman god, Jupiter, who created thunder and lightning.

Friday is named after the Teutonic goddess of love, fertility and beauty, Freya. In Latinate languages, this day is named after the Roman goddess Venus, who had similar responsibilities. Finally, Saturday is named after the planet Saturn.

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11 Responses to “Days: A History Of Time”

  • Daniel Scocco

    The interesting thing is that the pattern is pretty much the same across different languages. For instance, Friday in Italian is Venerdi, which comes after Venere (Venus), the same goddess.

  • Sharon

    Yes, I found that interesting too, Daniel. It just shows how much the Romans influenced many modern languages.

  • Ravi

    Surprisingly or perhaps not, this matches the Hindu weekdays as well. A few that come to mind and all are based on Sanskrit

    Monday = Moon = Som = Somwar
    Tuesday = Mars = Mangal = Mangalwaar
    Thursday = Jupiter = Guru = Guruwaar
    Saturday = Saturn = Shani = Shaniwaar
    Sunday = Sun = Ravi = Raviwaar

    Wednesday and Friday are the ones where a relation is not as direct

  • Sharon

    Thanks, Ravi. That’s really interesting. Makes you wonder where the Romans took their names from.

  • Roshawn

    Interesting post.

    I knew that the weekdays were named in honor of pagan gods, but where the names originated was something I didn’t know.

    So here’s my $0.02: when God created the earth, the first six days of the week didn’t have names at all; they were only referred to by the ordinal number in which they occurred in the week. Only the seventh day, what we call Saturday, had a name. It was called the Sabbath. God wanted this day to be special for mankind, which is why He named it and sanctified it. (If you don’t believe me, read the Bible and notice that they always referred to the days of the week as the first day, the second day, and so forth. But when the seventh day is mentioned, it’s pretty much always referred to by its name, the Sabbath.)

  • Merav

    You are right, Roshawn!
    I’m from Israel, and in Hebrew we call the days of the week by their ordinal number:
    Sunday= first= (RISHON)
    Monday= second = (SHENNI)
    and so on…
    but we call the seventh day SHABBAT (like a sabbatical),
    so our day off is Shabbat (Saturday) instead of Sunday.
    Have a great week!

  • imraan

    Admin, please met y.

    Daniel Scocco and Ravi,,, it makes me wonder too. Perhaps somebody ever heard about the chain culture between the Norway etc or north culture and the hindi culture. I mean there is a match point each other in their culture.

    like the same or almost same name in their God and Goddes.

    if ya have any information, i would like to know 🙂

    Roshawn and Merav, it seems same with islamic culture, or other wise almost same. But in Indonesia, we call day on the week by the ordinal number or the name day that every country have in the phrase.
    number 1 with ahad from wahid (1 in arabic languange) first is for monday and “MINGGU” in Indonesia language,

    number 2 for sunday (isnain in arabic language) and we call it with SENIN,

    number 3 for tuesday (tsala in arabic languange) and we call it with SELASA

    number 4 for wednesday (arba’a in arabic langunage) and we call it with RABU

    number 5 for thursday, (5=khomsah in arabic) and we call the day with KAMIS

    number 6 for Friday (6= sittah in arabic numerical) but we call it JUM’AH or JUM’AT because it GOD Gift for moslem.

    and number 7 for saturday (7=sab’ah in arabiic numerical, it looks like put it because Jew’s Day) and we call it SABTU, looks sound same with SHABBAT

    🙂

    thanks to approve, admin
    ,and soon except saturday, like in Jew culture or languange, we ,

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