A few weeks ago, I asked the question: Who Named The Months?
For today’s Wonder Why Wednesday I am asking a similar question…
Who Named The Days of The Week?
According to Wikipedia, “the names of the days of the seven-day week in many languages, including English, are derived from their being named after the classical planets in Hellenistic astrology, a system introduced in the Roman Empireduring Late Antiquity.“
Sometime between the 1st and 3rd centuries, the Roman Empire introduced the Roman nundinal cycle which featured a seven-day week. Previous to this, the week was eight days long. The names for the seven days came from the planets of Hellenistic astrology which was made up of the Sun, Moon, and the five known planets at the time along with the equivalent Roman gods: Mars (Ares), Mercury (Hermes), Jupiter (Zeus), Venus (Aphrodite) and Saturn (Cronos).
Throughout the years, the Germanic peoples exchanged the names of the the Roman gods for their gods. Ares’ day became Tiu (Twia), Hermes’ day became Woden, Zeus’ day became Thor, Aphrodite’s day became Freya (Fria). They did not change Saturn.
Here is quick summary of the name’s transition from ancient Greek to English:
Ancient Greek = hemera heli(o)u, “day of the sun”. This did not change. Old English = sunnandæg “day of the sun”.
Ancient Greek = hemera selenes “day of the moon”. This did not change. Old English = mon(an)dæg “day of the moon”.
Ancient Greek = hemera Areos “day of Ares”. Ares is the Greek god of war. The English/Germanic god of war is Tiu (Twia). Old English = tiwesdæg “Tiw’s (Tiu’s) day”.
Ancient Greek = hemera Hermu “day of Hermes”. Hermes is the Greek god of commerce. Hermes was replaced by the chief Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic god, Woden. Old English = wodnesdæg “Woden’s day”.
Ancient Greek = hemera Dios “day of Zeus”. Zeus is the supreme Greek god. But even supreme gods can be replaced. In this case, the new god was Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Old English = thunresdæg “thunder’s day”.
Ancient Greek = hemera Aphrodites “day of Aphrodite”. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love was exchanged for Freya (Fria), the Teutonic goddess of love. Old English = frigedæg “Freya’s day”.
Saturn is the Roman and Italic god of agriculture. Old English = sæter(nes)dæg “Saturn’s day”.
Sources: Crowl.org & Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia