Monday, December 2, 2013

Whence Tuesday?

Most ancient societies created a calendar.  Organizing future events was nearly impossible without one.  When the king called up his wise men and ordered up a calendar its creators had 2 obstacles to overcome.  First, you have to decide how and what to measure.  The smart guys decided that measuring lunar months was easy, visible and the choice was defendable.  Before too long they realized that no matter how simple it was it didn't jive with the solar reality.  The first guys were then fired and smarter solar calendar makers were hired in their stead.  Eventually, throughout the Mediterranean a variation on a single theme emerged.

So now you have a calendar, and over time a seven day week became standardized, what should we call the days of the weeks?  The Greeks named their 7 day week, the days of the gods, after the sun, moon, and the 5 visible planets.  The planets were named for their principal gods.  The Greek weekdays then became the day of:  The Sun, the moon, Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, Chronus.

The Romans found this a splendid idea and copied since their pantheon was similar.  Their weekdays were named for the sun, moon, Mars, Mercury, Jove, Venus and Saturn.

After the sack of Rome, Germanic tribes substituted their gods for the Roman deities. The week then became the sun day, moon day, Tiu, Woden, Thor, Fria and Saturn.  Converting the Germanic names into middle and then modern English gives us the days we know so well.

It seems odd to me that sometime during the centuries the popes ruled the world one of them didn't substitute the pagan deity day names.  I wonder why not.


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