We tend to take the names for the day’s of the week for granted, never giving a second thought as to where from or why? So, here it is -the bluffer’s guide to English weekday names.
Most of Europe adopted the Roman nomenclature; the days of the week being based on the seven celestial bodies: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. The German language substituted Germanic equivalents for the names of the Roman gods. The Angles and the Saxons invaded Britain and the rest is history.
Sunday is the first day of the week and dedicated to the sun. The Anglo-Saxons dedicated this day to their Sun-goddess, Sunne.
Monday was called by Anglo-Saxons Monandaeg, or the day of the Moon. In times past it was also referred to as Cobblers’ Monday because it was observed by shoemakers and others as a holiday (holy day).
Tuesday takes its name from Tiw-Tyr, the god of war and replaced the Roman equivalent, Mars. The Anglo-Saxons called him Tiw, the Scandinavians Tyr. In mythology he was the son of Woden-Odin, and the younger brother of Thor. He had his hand bitten off when chaining up the giant wolf Fenrir.
The fourth day of the week is Woden’s day or Wednesday. He replaced the Roman god Mercury. Woden was the god who granted heroism and victory in battle, and who, from on high, decided man’s fate.
Thursday is Thor’s day and he replaced the Roman god, Jupiter. Thor was the god of thunder and was considered by many as the first and most powerful of all the gods. Norse poets painted a very vivid picture of Thor. He was the very apotheosis of the warrior, rude, simple and noble, always ready to face combat and danger, a tireless adversary of giants and demons, a hero without fear, who never rested.
Friday is named after Frig, goddess of love, marriage and the dead. She was the wife of Woden and shared his wisdom and foresight.
Saturday is the seventh day of the week; called by the Anglo-Saxons Saeterdaeg, after the Latin – Saturni dies – the day of Saturn.
Here’s a traditional rhyme called Monday’s Child
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath-day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
Another rhyme says:
If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on Thursday, something better;
Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow;
Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow.