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The days of the week, known as weekdays, are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Saturday and Sunday are commonly called the weekend and are days of rest and recreation in most western cultures. The other five days are then known as weekdays. Friday and Saturday are days of rest in Muslim and Jewish countries respectively. The biblical Sabbath lasts from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. In many countries, including most of Europe, Asia, and South America, Monday is held to be the first day of the week. In others, including the United States, Canada, and in parts of Africa, Sunday is seen as the first day, a traditional view derived from ancient Jews, Roman Egyptians and the Holy Roman Empire. ISO 8601 defines Monday as the first day of the week, making Sunday the seventh.


Remnants of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse gods remain in the English language names for days of the week, as (more or less) calques of the Roman names:

Monday: The name Monday comes from the Old English M?nandæg, meaning "day of the Moon" it is a translation of the Latin name dies Lunae (cf. Romance language versions of the name, e.g., French lundi)

Tuesday: Tuesday comes from the Old English Tiwesdæg, meaning "Tyr's day." Tyr (in Old English, Tiw, Tew or Tiu) was the Nordic god of single combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology. The name is based on Latin Martis Dies, "Day of Mars" (the Roman war god) compare French mardi.

Wednesday: This name comes from the Old English Wodnesdæg meaning the day of the Germanic god Woden, more commonly known as Odin, who was the highest god in Norse mythology, and a prominent god of the Anglo-Saxons (and other places) in England until about the seventh century. It is based on Latin Mercurii Dies, "Day of Mercury" compare French mercredi. The connection between Mercury and Odin is more strained than the other syncretic connections. The usual explanation is that both Odin and Mercury were considered psychopomps, or leaders of souls, in their respective mythologies. However, in Old Norse myth, Odin, like Mercury, is associated with poetic and musical inspiration.

Thursday: The name Thursday comes from the Old English Þunresdæg, meaning the day of Þunor, commonly known in Modern English as Thor, the Germanic and Norse god of thunder. It is based on the Latin Iovis Dies, "Day of Jupiter" compare French jeudi. In the Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the chief god, who seized and maintained his power on the basis of his thunderbolt (fulmen).

Friday: The name Friday comes from the Old English frigedæg, meaning the day of Frige, the Germanic goddess of beauty, who is a later incarnation of the Norse goddess Frigg, but also connected to the Goddess Freyja. It is based on the Latin Veneris Dies, "Day of Venus" compare French vendredi. Venus was the Roman god of beauty, love, and sex.

Saturday: Saturday is the only day of the week to retain its Roman origin in English, named after the Roman god Saturn associated with the Titan Cronos, father of Zeus and many Olympians. In Latin it was Saturni Dies, "Day of Saturn" compare French samedi.

Sunday: The name Sunday comes from the Old English sunnandæg, meaning the day of the Sun it is a translation of the Latin phrase dies solis. English, like most of the Germanic languages and several of the Celtic languages, preserves the original pagan/sun associations of the day many other European languages, including all of the Romance languages, have changed the name of the day to the equivalent of "the Lord's day" (based on Ecclesiastical Latin dies Dominica).

What is different is that the gods in question (except Saturn) do not appear to rule over the planets involved. However, as shown above, they correspond to some extent to Roman gods that rule over the respective planets.

External articles and references

Planetary Linguistics and the Days of the Week -- The Definitive Site

Days of the week and months of the year in many different languages

Names of Weekdays at Science Wiki

Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese (much history of Western systems too)

The Days of the Week

Why Seven Days in a Week?

Days of the week. (2006, September 1). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Falk, Michael (1999). "Astronomical Names for the Days of the Week", Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 93:122.

Neugebauer, Otto (1979). Ethiopic astronomy and computus, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, philosophisch-historische klasse, sitzungsberichte, 347 (Vienna)

See also

Current events : The 'Free Energy' events page.

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