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How Each Day of the Week Got Its Name

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about interesting things.

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

The names of the days of the week have not always been what they are today. During the time of the Babylonians, days of the week were the same as the seven celestial bodies: sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The naming system that we use today comes from the Babylonian, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse mythologies for those seven celestial bodies. There are seven days in a week because that's about how long each phase of the moon lasts.

Days of the week have changed over time. The days of the week were once numbered instead of being named. Also, there used to be eight days of the week. In A.D. 321, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great made the seven-day week part of the Julian calendar that exists today.

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

It is no surprise, Sunday is named for the sun. In the United States and in some other countries, Sunday is considered to be the first day of the week. In some countries, Sunday is considered to be the last day of the week. However, Sunday is the last day of a three-day weekend.

Most observant Christians attend a place of worship on Sunday based on their belief that it is the Lord's Day because Jesus was raised from the dead on that day. It is the Sabbath day of prayer, worship, and rest.

Holidays and celebrations that are always on Sunday include Easter, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. Other holidays fall on the date instead of the day. Therefore, the day changes from year to year.

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

The first day of the work week got its name from the moon, the object we see in the night sky.

In some Eastern monasteries, Mondays are observed as fast days because that day of the week is dedicated to the angels. Because monks strive to live angelic lives, on Mondays they fast by abstaining from meat, fowl, fish, dairy products, wine, and oil. Some Jews also use Monday as a fast day. Muslims are encouraged to fast on Mondays and Thursdays because the prophet Muhammad fasted on these days.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints usually spend Monday as Family Home Evening (FHE) or Family Night where study, pray, and enjoy other family activities. Some businesses owned by Latter-Day Saints close their shops early on Monday evenings so their staff and customers can spend more time with their families.

Whenever a federal holiday falls on the weekend, companies give their employees Monday off. This gives them a longer weekend.

Here are some well-known songs about Monday:

  • "Blue Monday" (1953) by Fats Domino
  • "Monday, Monday" (1966) by the Mamas & the Papas
  • "Rainy Days and Mondays" (1971) by the Carpenters
  • "I Don't Like Mondays" (1979) by the Boomtown Rats
  • "Monday, Monday, Monday" (2002) by Tegan and Sara
  • "Manic Monday" (1986) by the Bangles (written by Prince)
how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

Tuesday is the third day of the week on the calendar and the second day of the traditional work week. Tuesday is named for the Roman God of War and the Norse God of Combat, Law, and Justice.

Tuesday is also a popular day for worshipping, praying, and fasting for Hindus.

Four things in the United States that might come to mind about Tuesday:

  1. Shrove Tuesday (also called Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday) comes on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year.
  2. Many American states hold their presidential primary elections on Super Tuesday during election years.
  3. There is a popular restaurant named Ruby Tuesday with 209 locations worldwide.
  4. There is a longtime actress whose stage name is Tuesday Weld.
how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

Wednesday is the middle of the work week. That's why some people refer to it as "Hump Day." It is also the night many Catholic and Protestant churches have their mid-week Bible Study.

Eastern Orthodox Churches observe Wednesday and Friday as fast days. Members abstain from meat, meat products, poultry, fish, dairy products, and alcoholic beverages.

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

Thursday is named after Thor, the popular Norse God of Thunder and the Roman God Jupiter, the God of sky and thunder.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday during Holy Week before Easter Sunday in Christian churches. That was the day when Jesus served the Last Supper to His disciples and instituted the Lord's Supper for us to follow. On that night, Jesus also washed His disciples' feet as an object lesson for His servanthood.

The 40 days after Easter when Jesus ascended into heaven is known as Ascension Thursday. Fasting is encouraged for Muslims and Jews on Thursdays.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is always on the last Thursday no matter what date is on.

College students often refer to Thursday as the new Friday. Some people refer to Thursday as "Friday Eve."

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

The last day of the traditional work week gets its English name from a Norse deity. Muslims celebrate Friday as their holy day.

Friday is considered an unlucky day in some cultures. In America, it is Friday the 13th that is considered unlucky for those who are superstitious.

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter for Christians. The crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated on Good Friday.

For those who like shopping, Black Friday in the United States is the nickname for the day after Thanksgiving Day. It is the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season when many big-ticket items go on sale.

how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

Saturday gets its name from Saturn, the planet with rings around it. Saturn is named after the Roman God of Wealth and Agriculture.

Saturday is celebrated as a weekend day in most countries. People with traditional work schedules get the day off to sleep, rest, or do whatever they have been putting off all week. They have extra time to go to the park, to the beach, or take their families on a road trip.

Because they do not have to go to work the next day, they can stay up late on Saturday night by going out for a late dinner or to a party with friends. Clubs, bars, and restaurants stay open later on Saturday night than on other nights because of the expected larger crowds.

People of the Jewish faith celebrate their holy day on Saturday.

Use this link to find the day of the week you were born.

  • Monday's child is fair of face,
  • Tuesday's child is full of grace.
  • Wednesday's child is full of woe,
  • Thursday's child has far to go.
  • Friday's child is loving and giving,
  • Saturday's child works hard for a living.
  • And the child born on the Sabbath day
  • Is bonny and blithe, good and gay.
how-each-day-of-the-week-got-its-name

Sources

Name of the Day of the Week
The Names for the Days of the Week
Day of the Week You Were Born

Comments

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on May 30, 2021:

Brenda, I dd not know which day I was born on either until I just used this link: https://www.mathsisfun.com/games/dayofweek.html

Copy and Paste the link. Type the year and date and it will tell you the day. I just found out I was born on a Monday. I never knew that before.

I think I will put the link in my article so others can use it also.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 30, 2021:

This is a very interesting article.

I really don't know what day I was born on, but now I will find out.

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