For thousands of years the human race has been using the phases of the moon as a means of measuring weeks. The four basic phases of the moon (First Quarter, New, Third Quarter, and Full) each last about seven days and make up our four week month. The weeks are then broken down into solar days. But why name those days Sun, Mon, Tue, Wedne, Thur, Fri, and Satur?
The sun has its own day, simple enough. Mon – maybe man with a Jamaican accent. Sure, man deserves a day. Tue – perhaps to, too, or two merits a misspelt day for having the same sound signify three different concepts. Wedne – don’t even know where to go with this. Maybe an inebriated person calling for Wendy? Thur – sure whatever. Fri – okay the day we fry stuff. Satur – because people did a lot of sitting that day. Funny guesses for sure, but still just guesses nonetheless.
The real story begins with the Romans. The Romans gave each day of the week a name corresponding to the celestial bodies that they could see with the naked eye. The beginning of the week started with Sol followed by Luna; Latin for sun and moon respectively.
After that, each planet seen was given their name as a representative of the Roman gods. The god of war Mars came next followed by Mercury the messenger god, while the fifth day of the week was given to the highest of the Roman gods Jupiter. Concluding the week were the days of Venus, the goddess of love, and Saturn the father of all the Roman gods.
It was not, however, until the Germanic people began using the “Roman” week that we got our modern day names. This change happened because the Germanic tribes had their own language and their own gods who, coincidently, corresponded with Roman gods; they just have different names.
The day starting the week changed from the Latin Sol to the German Sonne giving us Sunday, the day of the sun. Similarly, day two went from the Latin Luna to German Mond, and the day of the moon became Monday.
The Germanic equivalent to Mars was Tiw, pronounced Tue, creating Tuesday. Woden, the Germanic messenger god corresponding with Mercury, is the reason our “hump” day became the awkwardly spelt Wednesday.
Following Woden’s day is Thor’s day, or Thursday, with Thor being the Germanic equivalent of Jupiter. The Germanic version of Venus is Freya, so from Freya’s day we get Friday. Finally, it seems the ancient Germans got tired of changing names so they just kept Saturn’s day, leaving us with Saturday.
Now, at least the next time you’re experiencing Sunday morning coming down, dreading Monday, or thanking God it’s Friday you’ll know where the names originated.
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