The Paganic Days of the Week

Most people do not know that the days of the week in the English language are named after pagan Germanic gods, with Sunday and Monday being the obvious exceptions.

The etymology behind the days of the week:

Sunday = Sun day. Hope you could figure that one out. From the Old English word “Sunnandæg”, it is derived from the Latin “solis dies” or “day of the sun”.

Monday = Moon day. This one seems pretty obvious too, right? The modern English word is derived from the Old English word “monedæi”. This is derived from the Latin term “lunae dies” or “day of the moon”.

Tuesday = Tiw day. Here’s where things start getting a little less self-explanatory. Tiw was the pagan Germanic god of war, equivalent to the Latin Mars or Greek Ares. In the extinct Gothic language the god was referred to as “Teiws”, whereas he was known as “Tyr” in Norse, and “Tiwaz” in Proto-Germanic. The word is derived from the Old English “Tiwesdæg”. 

Wednesday = Woden’s day. Woden, also known as Odin in Norse, was the chief god of Germanic paganism, equivalent to the Latin Jupiter and Greek Zeus. Oddly enough, he was more so associated with the Latin god Mercury in ancient times, as Mercury’s Celtic equivalent, Lugus, was the chief god of the Celtic religion and the two shared many attributes. The word derives from the Old English “Wodnesdæg”, which in turn was the Germanic translation for the Latin “Mercurii dies” or “Mercury’s day”.

Thursday = Thor’s day. This one is probably a little easier to put together for most people than the others so far. Thor is fairly well known in modern times, thanks in part to the old comic book, and the spelling didn’t change a whole lot. The word is derived from the Old English “Þunresdæg”, or “Thunor’s day”. Thunor was the Old English word for Thor, the Norse god of Thunder. His name in Proto-Germanic was Thunaraz, which in turn gave rise to the Norse word Þor, the English word Thor, and the German word Donner (Thursday is Donnerstag in German). It is a Germanic translation of the Latin “Iovis dies”, or “day of Jupiter”, who, besides being the chief Latin god, was also the god of thunder.

Friday = Frigg’s day. Frigg was the wife of Odin and queen of the gods, in Germanic paganism, equivalent to the Latin Juno and Greek Hera. The word is derived from the Old English “Frigedæg”, but some contend that Friday was actually named after the goddess Freyja, who was the Germanic goddess of love, equivalent to the Latin Venus, and Greek Aphrodite. In that case the word would be derived from the Old High German “Friatag”, which was the Germanic translation of the Latin “Veneris dies” or “day of Venus”.

Saturday = Saturn’s day. Saturn was the Latin father of the gods, equivalent to the Greek Kronos, and was also a god of agriculture. Since the Germanic pagans didn’t really have an equivalent to Saturn, they adopted the Latin form itself, from “Saturni dies” or “day of Saturn” to the Old English “Sæternesdæg”. The Norse use variations of the word “Lördag”, which roughly translates as “bath day”, and the German speaking countries use variations of two different words; “Samstag” which is derived from the Old High German “Sambaztac” or “Sabbath day”, and “Sonnabend”, derived from the Old High German “Sunnunaband”, meaning “Sun’s eve”.

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