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The Connection Between the Seven Days of the Week & Astronomical Objects

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  • 0:03 The Names of Our Days
  • 0:54 Sunday and Monday
  • 1:26 Tuesday and Wednesday
  • 2:08 Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will explain to you why the English language has its current names for its days of the week and what Roman gods and Anglo-Saxons have to do with it.

The Names of Our Days

Did you ever wonder why Wednesday is called Wednesday or Friday is called Friday? Where in the world did these names even come from? While there are many nuances to help answer this question, we'll stick to the basics.

The answer to all of this is: it's a mix of Roman gods, their Anglo-Saxon adaptations, and astronomical objects. Ancient people knew of several celestial bodies. The sun would be the obvious one. It's really hard to miss it every single morning at sunrise. The moon is another clear-cut one, also hard to miss when there's a full moon.

But besides those two, ancient people were also aware of five other planets, which look like bright stars in our sky. These five planets, named for Roman deities, are:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn

Sunday and Monday

Happily for us, Sunday and Monday are days that are easy to understand in terms of their nomenclature. In Latin, Dies Solis is the Saxon sun's day, or Sunnandæg, which is our Sunday.

Dies Lunae in Latin, is named for the moon. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent for the moon is mona. So, we get Monandæg, or moon's day, our Monday. Both the sun and moon had deities of similar names associated with them in Germanic mythology.

Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday's ruling planet is Mars, the Roman god of war. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent of this was the god Tiw, the god of war and justice. The Latin Dies Martis, for Mars' Day, became Tiwesdæg, for Tiw. With time, Tiw's day, became 'Tuesday.'

Wednesday's ruling planet is Mercury. Mercury was the Roman god of commerce. The Latin Dies Mercurii became Wodnesdæg, or Woden's day, our Wednesday. It is unclear what Woden's godly realm was truly all about and how it related to Mercury. Speculations are rife as to their true connection.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

Thursday, Dies Jovis, has Jupiter as its planet. Jupiter (Jove) was the Roman god of sky and thunder. He was the king of the gods. He's like the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Zeus.

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