Names of Days
   
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Shop 4 Calendars   >   Articles   >   Names of Days

   

Names of Days


The ancient Roman Republic based their calendar on 8-day cycles (known as "nundinal cycles"), based on a 8-day cycle of bringing goods to market, however between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, the Romans gradually switched to 7-day weeks. By the 4th century, this system had completely replaced the older system, and had even spread to India and China.

The Romans named the days of their 7-day week after the planets of ancient Greek astrology: Sun (Sol), Moon (Luna), Mars (Ares), Mercury (Hermes), Jupiter (Zeus), Venus (Aphrodite) and Saturn (Cronos).

The names of the days of the week in most modern European languages (especially Romance languages which directly derive from the ancient Roman's language, Latin) are based on the Roman names - although, with the arrival of Christianity, in most languages the Sun's day (Sunday) became the "Day of the Lord" ("dimanche" in French, or "domenica" in Italian), and Saturn's Day (Saturday) was renamed after the Sabbath ("samedi" in French, or "sabato" in Italian).

The English names of the days of the week are a little unusual in that they combine their original Roman associations with Germanic/Norse paganism - in several cases the Germanic/Norse diety's names appears in place of a similar Greco-Roman diety.
  • Sunday - From the original Roman association of this day with the Sun (unlike many other European languages, Sunday did not become the "Day of the Lord" in English).

  • Monday - From the original Roman association of this day with the Moon.

  • Tuesday - Named after the Germanic/Norse diety Tiw/Týr, a god associated with combat - so in some way analogous to the Roman diety Mars, the God of War, which other European languages often name this day after.

  • Wednesday - Named after the Germanic/Norse diety Odin/Wodin. Other European languages generally name the day after the Roman diety Mercury, who is not obviously analogous to Odin/Wodin, except in that both are said to guide souls to the underworld.

  • Thursday - Named after the Germanic/Norse diety Thor, a god associated with thunder - somewhat analogous to the Roman diety Jupiter, also associated with thunder, , which other European languages often name this day after.

  • Friday - Named after the Germanic/Norse diety Fríge. In Norse religion, Fríge was associated with the planet Venus, and other European languages often name this day after the Roman diety Venus.

  • Saturday - Named after the Roman diety Saturn, whereas in most other European languages, the day has lost its association with Saturn, and is instead named after the Sabbath.



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