Origin of the names of the days of the week

Have you ever wondered where the days of the week got their names? Down through the centuries we have taken them for granted but the ancients gave special names to each day for a reason. Each day was named after ferocious gods of war, gentle goddesses and the sun and moon. Months also are named after gods and goddesses, famed people and even numbers.

Sunday: Legend tells that long ago, certain tribes of people in southern Europe could not explain the warm ball of light that appeared in the sky each day. They decided it was given to them by a great god and named the ball of light sol (Latin). To praise this god they named a day of the week after the ball of light. They named the day dies solis, Latin for “day of the sun.”

Later the people who dwelled in northern Europe also decided to honor this ball of light. In their non-Latin language, the day was called, sunnandaeg, meaning “day of the sun.” Many years passed and sunnandaeg became known as Sunday in English.

Monday: The southern European nation called the glowing ball of light in the night sky by the Latin name, lunae dies, and the northern Europeans called it mona. They named a day monan daeg which means Monday in English.

Tuesday: Some of the Europeans believed in Tiw, god of war. His name was spelled several different ways. They believed that the god Tiw guided warriors who worshipped him. The god Tiw lived on a high mountain and whenever a warrior died in battle Tiw would come down to Earth with a group of beautiful women and take the dead warrior to paradise. To honor Tiw, the people named a day of the week after him. They named the day Tiwesdaeg, meaning Tuesday in English.

Wednesday: Certain clans of people who used to live in northern Europe believed in many gods and goddesses, especially the Vikings. But these ancient people believed that one god held power over all the rest and his name was Woden. Legend tells that Woden wanted more than anything to be wise, so he traveled the world in a quest for wisdom. In order to receive wisdom and knowledge he was required to give one of his eyes.

After doing so, he wore a large hat with a floppy brim to cover his missing eye. As Woden traveled he carried two blackbirds perched upon his shoulders. They acted as his spies and at night they flew down to Earth to gather information on the people, reporting back to their master each morning. Woden always knew all the happenings on the Earth and many things had to be done in secret for fear of Woden’s disapproval. To honor Woden, the people named a day of the week after him. They named this day Wodnesdaeg, meaning Wednesday in English.

Thursday: When the people of northern Europe couldn’t understand what thunder and lightning was they decided the flashing light and loud rumbling must be caused by an angry god. But this god needed a name so they named him, Thor. He was one god you didn’t want to make mad.

If the thunder was fierce, they claimed Thor was angry and throwing his large hammer across the sky. This caused lightning to dance in a fit of rage. While Thor was throwing his temper tantrum across the sky, he rode in a wagon or chariot pulled by two goats. The wheels made such a sound that it caused the thunder to roar. The people honored Thor by giving him his own day, Thuresdaeg meaning Thursday in English.

Friday: Frigg was a kind and beautiful goddess who was married to Odin, the most powerful god. Frigg sat on her throne next to her beloved Odin and together they watched the happenings all over the world. Frigg was goddess of nature, controlling everything from the tinniest hamlet to the largest jungle. Frigg worked two jobs for she was also the goddess of love and marriage. The people loved her so much they named a day after her, calling it Frigedaeg, which became Friday.

Saturday: Long ago in the days of the great Roman Empire, a god named Saturn ruled over the farmlands. According to the people, Saturn had control over the weather and could make it good if he was happy or make it bad if he was angry. Saturn decided how much rainfall each village would get. If they were not pleasing to him perhaps they would get none.

Before planting time, a Roman farmer would ask Saturn to give him good weather for his crops. They believed they must sacrifice an animal in order to please Saturn. If the god accepted, he would then make the weather nice for the farmers. In order to score extra points with Saturn the people named a planet after him along with a day of the week. They called this day “Saturni dies,” Latin for “day of Saturn.” In English it became known as Saturday.



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