Days and Months
Ever wonder why the days and months are named like they are? How they came to be named the names that we call them today? Let’s see if we can dig a little into the origins of the names of days and months.
Sunday gets its name from the Sun. In olden times the sun was worshiped because it gave heat and light. It was a wonderful and mysterious god. The moon was worshipped as a lesser god and considered the wife of the sun. The sun was considered the father. So Monday gets its name from the moon. The sun rode his mighty chariot by day and the moon rode her serene silver chariot by night.
Tuesday was named for the brave Norse god, Tyr. Legend has it that Tyr was very brave and sacrificed an arm making a fierce wolf a captive. In French, Tuesday is called Mardi after the Greek war-god Mars. The planet Mars was also named after the same god.
Wednesday was named for Woden or Oden the chief God of the Norsemen. We keep the ‘d’ in Wednesday because it really is Woden’s day. Thursday, again, was named for a Norse god. Thor was the god of thunder. He was the same as the Greek god Jove, and he was the strongest of all the gods. It was thought that Thor and Jove used thunder bolts for hammers.
Friday was named after Freya, the wife of Woden and the mother of Thor. Ancient people liked their gods in families.
Saturday got its name from the planet with all of the rings around it. The god, Saturn, was worshiped by the Romans, and he had one special day each week for feasting and games. This day of celebration was called Saturnalia. It has always been a holiday. Most people don’t have work or school on Saturdays.
Now for the months… Four of the months aren’t even named. They go by numbers but the numbers are in Latin and no one is the wiser. But we’ll begin with the first one that does have a name, January. It was named for the old Roman god, Janus. He was the god of beginnings, and it is fitting that the first day of the New Year is January first.
February was named for the Roman god of purification, Februa. This was the month to clean the temples and houses.
March takes its name from Mars the war god, probably because it is such a noisy month with storms and winds.
April comes from ‘aperit’ a latin word meaning ‘open’. April is full of re-birth and renewal of life.
May was named after Maia, a goddess who was the daughter of Atlas noted for holding the earth up on his shoulders. Maia was honored for having a son named Mercury, the messenger god with wings on his heels. And June was named for Juno, the proud wife of the god Jupiter.
Beginning with July the months were numbered until two powerful Roman emperors decided to name July and August after themselves. These were Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar.
No man after these two were ever thought to be important enough to have a month named after them, so the old numbers still stand: Septem for seven, octem for eight, novem for nine, and decem for ten.
This is really strange because the months are the wrong numbers. In ancient times the New Year started with March instead of January. What do you think?
Will we have any luck trying to change them? I think not. The names we know them by are here to stay. God bless you.