The Four-Year-Old, climbing into her car seat after preschool, wasted no time on small talk. “Mommyo, I know Saturday is named after Saturn and Monday after the moon. What’s Friday named after?”
I used to know the origins of all the weekday names, but unfortunately I recycled that synapse recently in an effort to keep up with the ever-changing Facebook privacy settings. So I had to ask the iPhone.
How did Friday get its name?
In English anyway. The Romance languages, not surprisingly, derive their weekday names from the Roman gods.
Turns out we have the Norse gods to thank for most of our weekday names.
In taking Tyr’s title, Odin considerately left him his day, preferring instead to claim Wednesday for himself.
The Norse gods may dominate our working week, but we have the Romans (and labor unions) to thank for the weekends.
Sunday is indeed the Sun’s day, and as my Caterpickle had surmised, Saturday belongs to Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.
(Monday, incidentally, is named in honor of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the moon.)
Can’t you just see the Romans and Norse gods battling it out on some cosmic linguistic battlefield? It’s as if the Romans, harried nearly to death by the vigorous Norse, finally decided to stop the bleeding by conceding to the Norse gods (and their Anglo-Saxon allies) five days of the week, reserving the weekends for themselves.
I can just see those crafty Roman gods saying to themselves after the peace negotiations had concluded, “Let the barbarians take the plebian work week. Everyone will be too busy to pay homage to them on those days anyway.”
- It’s a new Viking invasion of Britain – but this time it’s cultural (guardian.co.uk)