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Essay

The days of the week

By Kip A. Cates

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Life is busy in Japan! Our lives are ruled by our weekly schedules. People work from Monday to Friday, then try to relax — if possible — on Saturday and Sunday.

Most of us live from day to day. But did you ever stop to think about the days of the week, what they mean and where they come from?

Actually, the seven days of the week have a special history. They trace their roots back to ancient times when people believed their lives were controlled by gods, stars and planets. These ancient beliefs are hidden in the names we use today. Let's take a look!

The first day of the week, Monday, means "Moon day." Long ago, people worshipped the moon and believed it exerted a special influence on this day. Times have changed! Nowadays, Monday is the least popular day of the week since, for most people, it just means "back to work."

The next four days of the week refer to ancient Norse gods from Scandinavia. Tuesday is named after the Norse god Tiw and was originally called "Tiw's day." Tiw was the god of war, law and justice.

Wednesday is named after the god Woden and was originally called "Woden's day." Woden was the god of wisdom, knowledge and poetry, and chief of all the Norse gods.

Thursday was originally "Thor's day" and is named after the Norse god Thor. Thor was the god of thunder, who used his magic hammer to create lightning and bring rain for farmers' crops.

Friday is named after the Norse god Frigg and was originally called "Frigg's day." Frigg was the goddess of love and marriage. Maybe that's why Friday night is a good time for a romantic date! In Islam, Friday is the holy day of the week, when Muslims worship at a mosque. For most people, however, it's the end of the workweek, when people can finally say, "TGIF — Thank God It's Friday!"

Saturday was originally called "Saturn's day" and is named after the planet Saturn. The ancient Romans even had a god, Saturnus, who was worshipped with merrymaking and time off from work. For Jewish people, Saturday is a special holy day.

Sunday is named for the sun and was originally called "Sun's day." Nowadays, it's a holy day for Christianity and a day of rest — and shopping — for people worldwide.

Let's summarize what we've learned. Of the seven days of the week, three are named after heavenly bodies (the sun, the moon and Saturn) and four are based on ancient Norse gods (Tiw, Woden, Thor and Frigg).

If you can somehow find time in your busy schedule, please try to learn more about the unique stories behind the days of the week!

曜日

私たちは毎週の予定に追われるように忙しく暮らしているが、立ち止まって曜日について考えてみるのも面白い。1週間の7つの曜日にはそれぞれどんな意味があって、何に由来しているのだろう? 

The Japan Times ST: August 25, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年11月24日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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