Where Did The English Names for The Days of The Week Come From?

An explanation of the origins for the names for the days of the week in the English language.

Our modern 7-day week was established by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 321 A.D. The names for the days of this week vary from language to language, but in English, there are two main sources for the weekday names: ancient gods and celestial bodies. Most of the names are derived from gods in Germanic/Norse and Roman mythology. Two of the names come from celestial bodies. Only one weekday is named after a Roman god.

Here are the sources for the names of the weekdays:

  • Sunday: Named after the Sun.
  • Monday: Named after the Moon.
  • Tuesday: ‘Tiw’s Day’ – Named after the Anglo-Saxon god, Tiw. Tiw is the equivalent of the Norse god, Tyr, god of war and justice.
  • Wednesday: ‘Woden’s Day’ – Woden is the Anglo-Saxon name for the Chief of the Norse Gods, Odin, god of war, poetry, and wisdom.
  • Thursday: ‘Thor’s Day’ – Thor is the God of Thunder in Norse mythology. He is a patron god of farmers and a protector of both gods and men.
  • Friday: ‘Frigg’s Day’ – The wife of Odin, Frigg is the Norse goddess of marriage, motherhood,and fertility.
  • Saturday: ‘Saturn’s Day’ – Named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and father of many other gods, including Jupiter. He is often identified with Cronus, one of the Titans in Greek mythology.

RESOURCES
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A698989
http://www.pantheon.org/

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2 Comments
  1. Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I never really gave the names of the week any thought, but now you have enlightened me. Thank you for the educational article.

  2. Posted February 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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