Days of the week

Days of the week

The names of the days of the week in various world languages can be classified as either numerical or planetary; however in either case the names of one or more days may have been changed for religious or secular reasons. For instance Sunday is often named "Lord" (for Lord's Day) while Saturday is often named "Sabbath" or "washing day". Numerically named days may associate day one with Sunday as in Arabic, Hebrew and Portuguese, or may associate day one with Monday as in Russian and other Slavic languages. Planetary names for the days are derived from the Sun, Moon, and five visible planets (Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn), each of which was associated with a Roman deity. The Germanic languages, including English, substitute indigenous Germanic gods with similar characteristics for many of the Roman deities.

The English names for the days of the week derive from the Anglo-Saxon deities stemming from the native paganism of the Anglo-Saxons. An exception to this is Saturday, which takes its name from the Roman deity Saturn. To varying extents, most regions with dominant Germanic languages practise a similar naming convention, with most of their weekdays named for their native Germanic deities.

The seven-day workweek is generally comprised of five working days ("weekdays") and two non-working days (the "weekend"), though which days of the week are which varies from country to country. Which day of the week is the "first" day also varies, even among countries that share the same weekend days.

Names of the days

Remnants of Germanic deities are reflected in the English language names for days of the week, as (more or less) calques of the Roman names:
*Sunday: The name Sunday comes from the Old English "Sunnandæg" (pronounced [sun.nan.dæg] or [sun.nan.dæj), meaning "Day of the Sun". This is a translation of the Latin phrase "Dies Solis". English, like most of the Germanic languages, preserves the original pagan/sun associations of the day. Many other European languages, including all of the Romance languages, have changed its name to the equivalent of "the Lord's day" (based on Ecclesiastical Latin "Dies Dominica"). Compare: Spanish and Portuguese "Domingo", French "Dimanche", Romanian "Duminică" and Italian "Domenica".
*Monday: The name Monday comes from the Old English "Mōnandæg" (pronounced [mon.nan.dæg] or [mon.nan.dæj'), meaning "Day of the Moon". This is likely based on a translation of the Latin name "Dies Lunae" (cf. Romance language versions of the name, e.g., French "Lundi", Spanish, "Lunes", Romanian "Luni", Italian "Lunedì").
*Tuesday: The name Tuesday comes from the Old English "Tiwesdæg" (pronounced [ti.wes.dæg] or [ti.wes.dæj] , meaning "Tyr's day." Tyr (in Old English, "Tiw", "Tew" or "Tiu") was a god of combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology and Germanic paganism. The name of the day is based on Latin "Dies Martis", "Day of Mars" (the Roman war god); compare: French "Mardi", Spanish "Martes", Romanian "Marţi" and Italian "Martedì".
*Wednesday: The name Wednesday comes from the Old English "Wōdnesdæg" (pronounced [woːd.nes.dæg] or [woːd.nes.dæj) meaning the day of the Germanic god Wodan, more commonly known as Odin, who was the highest god in Norse mythology, and a prominent god of the Anglo-Saxons (and other peoples) in England until about the seventh century. It is based on Latin "Dies Mercurii", "Day of Mercury"; compare: French "Mercredi", Spanish "Miércoles", Romanian "Miercuri" and Italian "Mercoledì". The connection between Mercury and Odin is more strained than the other syncretic connections. The usual explanation is that both Odin and Mercury were considered psychopomps, or leaders of souls, in their respective mythologies. Also, in Old Norse myth, Odin, like Mercury, is associated with poetic and musical inspiration. In German, the day is referred to as Mittwoch (mid week). Similarly in Finnish it is referred to as keskiviikko (keski = mid, viikko = week).
*Thursday: The name Thursday comes from the Old English "Þūnresdæg" (pronounced [θuːn.res.dæg] or [θuːn.res.dæj] ), meaning the day of Þunor, commonly known in Modern English as Thor, the god of thunder in Norse Mythology and Germanic Paganism. It is based on the Latin "Dies Iovis", "Day of Jupiter"; compare: French "Jeudi", Spanish "Jueves", Romanian "Joi" and Italian "Giovedì". In the Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the chief god, who seized and maintained his power on the basis of his thunderbolt ("Fulmen").
*Friday: The name Friday comes from the Old English "Frigedæg" (pronounced [æg] or [æj] ), meaning the day of Frige, the Germanic goddess of beauty, who is a later incarnation of the Norse goddess Frigg, but also potentially connected to the Goddess Freyja. It is based on the Latin "Dies Veneris", "Day of Venus"; compare: French "Vendredi", Spanish "Viernes", Romanian "Vineri" and Italian "Venerdì". Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty, love and sex.
*Saturday: Saturday is the only day of the week to retain its Roman origin in English, named after the Roman god Saturn associated with the Titan Cronus, father of Zeus and many Olympians. Its original Anglo-Saxon rendering was "Sæturnesdæg" (pronounced [sæ.tur.nes.dæg] or [sæ.tur.nes.dæj] ). In Latin it was "Dies Saturni", "Day of Saturn"; compare: French "Samedi". The Spanish and Portuguese "Sábado", the Romanian "Sâmbătă", and the Italian "Sabato" come from "Sabbata Dies" (Day of the Sabbath).

What is different is that the Germanic gods don't appear to preside over the planets involved. However, as shown above, they correspond to some extent to Roman gods that rule over the respective planets.

First day of the week

In English language countries the week may begin on either Sunday or Monday. Most business and social calendars in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia mark Sunday as the first day of the week, though in South Africa and South America, Monday is considered the first day of the working weekFact|date=June 2008.

Sunday was the first day of the astrological week, the Hebrew week, and in the Ecclesiastical Latin week of the first millennium.

In Jewish and Christian tradition, the first day of the seven day week is Sunday. According to the Bible, God created the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath, i.e. Saturday. This made Sunday the first day of the week, while Saturdays were sanctified for celebration and rest. After the week was adopted in Early Christian Europe, Sunday remained the first day of the week, but also gradually displaced Saturday as the day of celebration and rest, being considered the Lord's Day.

The variation is evident from names of the days in some languages — in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Portuguese some days are simply called by their number starting from Sunday, e.g. Monday is called "Second day" etc. In other languages, like Slavic languages, days are also called after their ordinal numbers, but starting from Monday, making Tuesday the "Second day". According to another possible explanation, days from Monday to Friday in Slavic languages aren't numbered by their position within the week, but by their distance from Sunday, especially given that Wednesday is named "The Middle day", which makes it a true statement only if Sunday is the first day of the week.

Through common usage in most of Europe for business purposes today, in South America, and in parts of Asia, Monday is considered to be the first day of the week and is literally named as such in languages such as Mandarin ("xingqiyi") and Lithuanian ("pirmadienis"). The ISO prescribes Monday as the first day of the week with ISO-8601 for software date formats.


Various sourcesWho|date=August 2008 point to the seven day week having originated in ancient Babylonia or Sumer. Fact|date=February 2008 It has been suggestedWho|date=August 2008 that a seven day week might be much older. Fact|date=February 2008 The seven day planetary week originated in Hellenistic Egypt. Fact|date=February 2008

It is suggested that the seven day week derives from early human observation that there are seven celestial objects (the five visible planets plus the Sun and the Moon) which move in the night sky relative to the fixed stars. [ [ The Nine Planets: Planetary Linguistics: Days of the Week] ] Seven days is also the approximate time between the principal phases of the Moon (new, first quarter, full, last quarter). In any event, a seven day week based on heavenly luminaries eventually diffused both East and West, to the Romans via the Greeks, and to the Japanese via Manicheans, Indians and Chinese.

Hindu civilization, which used a seven-day week, mentioned in the Ramayana, a sacred epic written in Sanskrit about 500 BC, used names such as "Bhanu-vaar" meaning Sunday, "Soma-vaar" meaning Moon-day and so forth.

The earliest known reference in Chinese writings is attributed to Fan Ning, who lived in the late 4th century, while diffusions via India are documented with the writings of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yi Jing and the Ceylonese or Central Asian Buddhist monk Bu Kong of the 8th century. The Chinese transliteration of the planetary system was soon brought to Japan by the Japanese monk Kobo Daishi; surviving diaries of the Japanese statesman Fujiwara Michinaga show the seven day system in use in Heian Period Japan as early as 1007. In Japan, the seven day system was kept in use (for astrological purposes) until its promotion to a full-fledged (Western-style) calendrical basis during the Meiji era.

The seven day week is known to have been unbroken for almost two millennia via the Alexandrian, Julian, and Gregorian calendars. The date of Easter Sunday can be traced back through numerous computistic tables to an Ethiopic copy of an early Alexandrian table beginning with the Easter of 311 as described by Otto Neugebauer in "Ethiopic astronomy and computus". Only one Roman date with an associated day of the week exists from the first century and it agrees with the modern sequence, if properly interpreted (see below). Jewish dates with a day of the week do not survive from this early period.

In other languages

Romance languages

In most Romance languages, such as Italian, Spanish, French and Romanian, the names of the days "except Saturday and Sunday" come from Roman gods via Latin. Latin itself calqued the names from Greek. The Roman (Latin) names of the days are still used in some English courts such as the House of Lords. [ [ United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions] ]

The major exception is Portuguese which uses a numbered system derived from the Ecclesiastical Latin day names, as opposed to Classic Latin.


The early Christian Church, uncomfortable using names based on pagan gods, introduced a simple numerical nomenclature which persists in some European languages such as Portuguese and Greek. The Christian names are derived from Hebrew, which numbers all days of the week beginning with "First day" for Sunday but ending with the "Sabbath" for Saturday. Arabic names for Sunday through Thursday are first through fifth days; Friday (the day when Muslims are expected to perform noon prayers as a group) is named the "gathering day" and Saturday is "Sabt" which means "the End" because the count of the days of the week end with it.

It was Saint Martin of Dumio (c. 520580), archbishop of Braga, who decided that it was unworthy of good Christians to call the days of the week by the Latin names of pagan gods and decided to use the ecclesiastic terminology to designate them ("Feria secunda, Feria tertia, Feria quarta, Feria quinta, Feria sexta, Sabbatum, Dominica Dies"), from which came the present Portuguese numbered system. Martin also tried to replace the names of the planets, but in that he was not successful. In Middle Ages, Galician-Portuguese still retained both systems (as seen in older texts), nowadays only Portuguese's sister language Galician uses the old Roman gods system. For that reason, the first day of the week in Portuguese is Sunday ("Domingo").

The Slavic languages adopted numbering but took Monday rather than Sunday as the "first day".

Celtic languages

Welsh, the closest living language to that of Roman Britain, faithfully preserves all the Latin names, [ [ MacBain, Alexander. An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language. Gairm Publications, 1982 reprint of 1896 original.] ] even though the language itself is not directly descended from Latin: "dydd Llun, dydd Mawrth, dydd Mercher, dydd Iau, dydd Gwener, dydd Sadwrn, Sul".

In Irish, the Latin names are used for Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. [ [ MacBain, Alexander. An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language. Gairm Publications, 1982 reprint of 1896 original.] ] Three days are named for the traditional Roman Catholic days of fasting and abstinence. Wednesday is "the first fast": "An Chéadaoin"; Friday "the fast": "An Aoine"; leaving Thursday as "the day between two fasts", "An Dé idir dhá aoin", contracted to "An Déardaoin".

Germanic languages

In English all the days of the week are named after the ruling luminary, with most of the names coming from Germanic deities, such as Wodan (Wednesday) and Thor (Thursday). Sunday and Monday are named directly from the Sun and Moon.

Saturday is the only day named directly after a Roman god, though the Germanic god associated with each day is generally a syncretic calque of the corresponding divinity from the Roman calendar. Other Germanic languages generally follow the same pattern, although the German for Wednesday is Mittwoch (mid-week) and Dutch is the only other with an equivalent to Saturday.

Icelandic is notably divergent, maintaining only the Sun and Moon ("sunnudagur" and "mánudagur" respectively), while dispensing with the names of the explicitly heathen gods in favor of a combination of numbered days and days whose names are linked to pious or domestic routine ("föstudagur", "Fasting Day" and "laugardagur", "Washing Day"). The "washing day" is also used in other North Germanic languages, although the "pagan" names generally are retained.

Indic languages

In the Hindu Calendar followed in South Asia and South-East Asia the days of the week (named after the planets, starting from Sunday) are called "bhaanu vaasara" (Sun), "indu vaasara" (Moon), "mangal vaasara" (Mars)," saumya vaasara" (Mercury), "guru vaasara" (Jupiter) "bhrigu vaasara" (Venus), "sthira vaasara" (Saturn).

The names of days in Hindi and Marathi are Ravivar (Sunday), Somvar (Monday), Mangalvar (Tuesday), Budhvar (Wednesday), Guruvar (Thursday), Shukravar (Friday) and Shanivar (Saturday)

In the linguistically unrelated South Indian dravidian languages language Tamil the days of the week are also named after the planets, in the same order as in the Romance languages and the Indo-Aryan languages - Thingal (Monday, Moon), Sevvaay (Tuesday, Mars), Puthan (Wednesday, Mercury), Viyaazhan (Thursday, Jupiter), Velli (Friday, Venus), Sani (Saturday, Saturn), Nyayiru (Sunday, Sun).

In the Sino-Tibetan language of Burmese, the days of the week, except for Sunday and Monday, named after the planets, are Sanskrit loan words. In order starting from Sunday, they are: "Taninganway" (Sino-Tibetan), "Taninla" (Sino-Tibetan), "Inga" (from Sanskrit 'Angara', "Mars"), "Boddhahu" (from Sanksrit 'Budha' "Mercury"), "Kyathabaday" (from Sanskrit "Vakyasapati"/"Bavahasapati"), "Thaukkya" (from Sanskrit 'Shukra' and combined with Pali 'Sukka') and "Sanay" (from Sanskrit "Shani").

Japanese and Korean

In Japanese and Korean, the days of the week are named after the Chinese astrological week, which is based on the Indian luminary week. The Chinese associated the five classical planets with the Five Elements. Notably, the order of the planets follows the Indian week, and not the order of the Chinese elements. (See table below.) For example, the planet Mercury is associated with the element Water, and Wednesday ("dies Mercuris") is called "day of water" ("suiyoubi", in Sino-Japanese). These names of days of the week were introduced by the end of the first millennium CE to Japan and Korea, but they were not widely used in Japanese or Korean daily life until the late 19th century.


In modern Chinese, days of the week are numbered from one to six, except Sunday. Literally, the Chinese term of Sunday means "week day"(星期日 or 星期天). Monday is named literally "week one" in Chinese, Tuesday is "week two", and so on. However, China adopted the Western calendar, putting Sunday at the beginning of the calendar week, and Saturday (星期六, meaning "week six" in Chinese) at the end. Fact|date=July 2007

A second way to refer to weekdays is using the word zhou (週), meaning "cycle." Therefore Sunday is referred to as zhoumo (週末), meaning "cycle's end" and Monday through Saturday is termed accordingly zhouyi (週一) "first of cycle," zhouer (週二) "second of cycle," and etc.

Another Chinese numbering system, found sometimes in spoken Chinese of southern languages (i.e. Cantonese/Yue, or Fukinese/Min), refers to Sunday as the "day of worship" (禮拜日 or 禮拜天) and numbers the other days "first [day after] worship" (Monday) through "sixth [day after] worship" (Saturday). The Chinese word used for "worship" is associated with Christian and Muslim worship, and the system's use may be connected with the arrival of Christianity, especially prevalent during in the 18th and 19th centuries in south coastal port cities.

In traditional Chinese calenders, days may still be referred to by their association with the sun, moon, and the Chinese elements of fire, water, wood, metal, and earth.

Cross-linguistic overview

:"The (suggested) purpose of these tables is to show how far different languages preserve the associations with the associated celestial bodies of ancient times and the Church's numbering of the days. (That is, not to list the names in "every" language: Wiktionary entries for the day names offer such lists – click on the links in the header row.)"


7 = 3). The luminaries are arranged in the same Ptolemaic/Stoic order around the points of the heptagram. Tracing the unicursal line from one planet to the next gives the order of the weekdays.

According to some sources, the weekday heptagram is considerably old:

It was with the adoption and widespread use of the seven-day week throughout the Hellenistic world of mixed cultures that this heptagram was created. [ [ Symbol 29:16] ]

ee also

* Akan names
* Calculating the day of the week



* Brown, Cecil H. [ Naming the days of the week: A cross-language study of lexical acculturation] , "Current Anthropology" 30 (1989) 536–550.
* Falk, Michael (1999). " [ Astronomical Names for the Days of the Week] ", "Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada", 93:122–133.
* Neugebauer, Otto (1979). "Ethiopic astronomy and computus", Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, philosophisch-historische klasse, sitzungsberichte, 347 (Vienna)
*Zerubavel, Eviatar (1989). "The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week", Chicago: University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-98165-7
* [ Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese]

External links

* [ Planetary Linguistics and the Days of the Week — The Definitive Site]
* [ Days of the week and months of the year in many different languages]
* [ Names of Weekdays at Science Wiki] Dead link|date=August 2008
* [ Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese (much history of Western systems too)]
* [ The Days of the Week]
* [ The days of the week in various languages]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Days of the Week (song) — Days of the Week Single by Stone Temple Pilots from the album Shangri La Dee Da Released 2001 …   Wikipedia

  • Days of the New — Origin Charlestown, Indiana, United States Genres Post grunge, acoustic rock, alternative rock Years active 1995–present Labels …   Wikipedia

  • Days of the Croatian Language — (Croatian: Dani hrvatskoga jezika) is an annual week long cultural event first established by Matica hrvatska which celebrates the Croatian language. It is held from March 11 to March 17. It was first held upon Croatian independence in 1991. In… …   Wikipedia

  • Days of the New (2001 album) — Days of the New Studio album by Days of the New Released September 25, 2001 Recorded February–J …   Wikipedia

  • Calculating the day of the week — This article details various mathematical algorithms to calculate the day of the week for any particular date in the past or future.A typical application is to calculate the day of the week on which someone was born or some other special event… …   Wikipedia

  • Villain of the week — This article is about antagonists in episodic fiction. For the 1998 song Freak of the Week , see Marvelous 3. Villain of the week (or, depending on genre, monster of the week or freak of the week ) is a term that describes the nature of one use… …   Wikipedia

  • Message of the Week — The West Wing episode Episode no. Season 7 Episode 135 Directed by Christopher Misiano Written by …   Wikipedia

  • Book of the Week — Infobox Radio Show show name = Book of the week imagesize = caption = other names = format = Literature runtime = 15 mins country = United Kingdom language = English home station = BBC Radio 4 syndicates = television = presenter = starring =… …   Wikipedia

  • USA Thursday Game of the Week — The USA Thursday Game of the Week is a former television program that broadcast Major League Baseball games on the USA Network. Contents 1 Background 2 Coverage history 2.1 Memorable moments …   Wikipedia

  • week — /week/, n. 1. a period of seven successive days, usually understood as beginning with Sunday and ending with Saturday. 2. a period of seven successive days that begins with or includes an indicated day: the week of June 3; Christmas week. 3.… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”