How Did the Days of the Week Get Their Names?
If we go back in time to the Babylonians (circa 4,5000 BC – 500 BC), we find a great intellectual civilisation that developed a calendar and introduced the 7 day week.
At that time only 5 planets were known to exist, namely Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn so if we add to them the Sun and the Moon we have our compliment of 7 days. The Romans continued with this custom designating Sunday and Monday as the first two days of the week.
A number of modern day societies continue with this process for same the days of the week in our Mediterranean countries still follow the names of the planets with the exception of Sunday. To give comparisons of this the French days of the week are mentioned in the following explanation.
Some may argue that Sunday is the first day of the week but it is our starting point. It is also one of the easiest to understand. Sunday is named after the largest object in our Solar System, i.e. the Sun, and was originally known as the Sunnandaeg in Old English which can be translated as “Sun’s day”. In French Sunday is Dimanche meaning the day of grace.
Monday is named after what appeared to be, to our ancestors, the second largest object that can be observed in the sky. In Old English it was known as Monandaeg which can be translated as “day of the Moon”. In French it is Lundi, Lune being the word for the Moon.
Originally Tuesday was named after Mars in the modern French. It is called Mardi so it is easy to see the connection. However, we were invaded by the Vikings and they had a God of War called Tyr. The Old English referred to it as “Tiw’s day” thus we arrive with our Tuesday.
France still continues with its original derivation of “Mercredi” named after the planet Mercury. Once more the Vikings had their way and transformed it into another of their gods “The God of Woden”, and so it became “Wodnesdaeg” which through the ages has become known as Wednesday
Thursday was originally named after the planet Jupiter, in French it is called Jeudi. Once more our invasive ancestors changed the name to honour their God Thor, hence we are handed down the name Thursday
The French somehow escaped the Viking intrusion and they continue with their days being named form the planets, so Friday is Vendredi named after the planet Venus. Whereas our Friday was named after Frija, Freya or Frigg, all being derived from Goddess’s of our Viking ancestors.
Somehow the Vikings did not change the name of Saturday which the French call Samedi, and Saturday remains named after that most beautiful of planets, Saturn.
Source: John Harris, Cotswold Link May/June 2018