Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Jun 19, 2020.
Tues to Friday are named for Norse gods, why? How about the rest of the week and why those names?
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and, why saturn hung on to his day is beyond my ken
7 seems an odd number
from the 7 known celestial bodies?
It's from the Roman naming system, which the Latin-based languages still follow for Mon-Fri (they renamed Saturday and Sunday in deference to Christianity as Sabbath and Lord's days). For example in French one has Lundi (Luna), Mardi (Mars), Mercredi (Mercury), Jeudi (Jove), Vendredi (Venus), but then Samedi (Sabbath) and Dimanche (from Dominico/Domenico etc. ).
The Germanic peoples adopted the Roman system too but chose Norse names for the gods in question: Tyr/Tiw for Mars, Odin for Mercury, Thor for Jupiter (Jove) and Frea/Frige for Venus and used their corresponding names for sun and moon. This leaves Saturday as the odd one out - possibly as there was no Norse god equivalent, but that's just speculation on my part.
It has a nice ring to it. Ba-DUM-pum!
Sunday (Christian Sabbath) is the first day of the week and Saturday (Jewish Sabbath) is the seventh. Seems like a bit of a paradox. Genesis has God resting on the seventh day.
I think it is because of Jesus's resurrection on Sunday. (According to the gospels he was crucified on the "day of preparation" i.e. the day before the Sabbath and therefore rose again on Sunday.) The early Christians did not consider themselves bound by the Law of Moses.
But I'm open to correction on this.
That's one suggestion.
Apparently the ancient Chaldeans named the hours of the day after those bodies in reverse order of their supposed distance from the Earth :Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon.
The days were named after the first hour that day started with.
Ergo if the first day's hours were Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars.
The next day would start with Sun,
The day after that with Moon
The next day with Mars (Tyr was the Norse God of war)
The next with Mercury (Wodin, who for various reasons, the Roman historian Tacitus associated with Mercury)
Then Jupiter ( Thor)
Venus ( Freyja, Norse goddess of love)
and then back to Saturn again
7 is, if I remember my history lessons, thought to be due to the roughly 28 days from full moon to full moon, and dividing this into the 4 phases (new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter) to arrive at 7 days each. The actual number of days between full moons is actually c.29.5 days, but the closest divisible by 4 is 28. They (the Babylonians, I believe) used "leap days" to keep the weeks in line with the phases. Naming the days after the 7 heavenly bodies then seemed quite appropriate and meaningful (albeit coincidental that they thought there were 7, and there were 7 days) - and possibly to some it reinforced the mystical nature of the universe, where everything seemed to fit together.
Had they thought at the time that there were 8 heavenly bodies, maybe they would have rounded the 29.5 up to 32. Or maybe used another list of 7 meaningful objects to name the days by. Who knows.
Jewish calendar is probably a modern day version of Babylonian. It is lunar with leap months stuck in to catch up to solar year.
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