The seven-day week is used worldwide and has been adopted as the international standard, as specified by the International Organization for Standardization. As often as you use your calendar (mourning the loss of a weekend, willing Monday to become Friday, etc.), do you know the origin of the days of the week?
For those who responded with an internal shake of the head, here is a brief history!
In 700 BCE, Babylonian astrologers began marking each day after their planet gods, and thus the seven-day week was born. Then, the Greeks named Tuesday through Saturday after the moon, the sun, and their five planet gods—Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Cronus. The Romans, ever-eager not to be shown-up by the Greeks, named the days of the week after their respective gods—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Enter the Germanic peoples, who called upon the names of the Norse gods to name Tuesday through Friday after deciding to maintain Saturday through Monday. A few linguistic modifications later, and we have our currently named days of the week!
Here are the inspirations behind each day’s moniker, and I do hope that they plan on sticking around for another thousand years!
Sun’s day : The first day of the week is known as the “day of the sun.”
Moon’s day : Shockingly, this is also known as the “day of the moon.”
Tiu’s day : Tiu is the English/Germanic god of war and of the sky. He is identified with the Norse god Tyr.
Woden’s day : Woden is the chief Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic god. Woden is the combination of wod, meaning “violently insane,” and -en “headship.” He is identified with the Norse Odin. Hump day just got a little more epic.
Thor’s day : Thor is the Norse god of thunder, which is obviously the best day of the week, because it is named after Marvel’s very best Avenger. No, no, don’t argue.
Freya’s day : Freya is the Teutonic goddess of love, beauty, and fecundity (if this word looks as foreign to you as it did to me, I encourage you to look it up.)
Saturn’s day : Saturn is the Roman and Italic god of agriculture and the consort of Ops. He is believed to have ruled the earth during an age of happiness and virtue. Now I understand why I associate Saturdays with happiness…
**Note: There are several differing opinions on the origin and naming of the seven-day week; this is the most common assumption.