Weekday names

The Origins of the Weekday Names

Arts & Culture, Folklore & Mythology, History, Language No Comments

Have you ever stopped to wonder about how each weekday got its name? They’re such an integral part of our daily lives, yet most of us probably haven’t given much thought to where they come from. As it turns out, the names of the weekdays have a rich and diverse history, rooted in ancient mythology, celestial bodies, and cultural influences. In this article, we’ll delve into the origins of each weekday’s name, uncovering the fascinating stories behind them.

Monday: The Weekday for the Moon

Monday, the day that kicks off the working week for many, derives its name from the Old English word “Monandæg,” which literally means “Moon’s day.” This association with the moon dates back to ancient times when many cultures worshipped lunar deities. The Norse, for example, dedicated Monday to the moon god, Mani, who they believed guided the moon across the night sky. The influence of these ancient beliefs lives on in the name for this weekday we still use today.

Tuesday: A Tribute to the God of War

Tuesday owes its name to the Norse god of war, Tyr, also known as Tiw. In Old English, the day was called “Tiwesdæg,” meaning “Tiw’s day.” Tiw was associated with courage, bravery, and victory in battle, attributes that align with the planet Mars in astrology. The Romans, too, worshipped a god of war, Mars, and it is from the Latin “dies Martis” that we derive the modern name “Tuesday.”

Wednesday: Odin’s Day

Wednesday is a day of duality, a weekday named in honour of two significant figures from ancient mythology. Old English speakers called it “Wōdnesdæg,” after the Norse god Odin (Woden), the Allfather and ruler of the gods. The Norse associated Odin with wisdom, knowledge, and poetry. The Romans, however, dedicated Wednesday to the messenger god, Mercury (Mercredi in French), known for his speed and agility. This linguistic fusion gives us the modern name “Wednesday.”

Thursday: A Tribute to Thor’s Thunder

The old Norse civilisation name Thursday after Thor, the god of thunder and lightning. In Old English, it was called “Þūnresdæg,” meaning “Thor’s day.” The Dutch and Afrikaners call it “Donderdag”, literally translated to Thunder Day. Thor was a formidable deity, wielding his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, to protect both gods and humans from the forces of chaos and evil. The association of Thursday with thunder and storms is a nod to Thor’s prowess in controlling the elements. The Romans also revered a thunder god, Jupiter, and thus Thursday corresponds to “dies Iovis” or “Jupiter’s day” in Latin.

Friday: The Weekday of Love and Beauty Through Freyja

Friday is named after the Norse goddess Freyja (Frigg), associated with love, fertility, and beauty. In Old English, it was known as “Frīgedæg,” meaning “Frigg’s day.” The Norse revered Freyja as a powerful deity, with dominion over love, fertility, and the household. The Romans linked Friday to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, giving us “dies Veneris” or “Venus’s day.” The similarities between Freyja and Venus underscore the universal themes of love and beauty celebrated on this day.

Saturday: A Day for Saturn

The ancient Romans named Saturday, the final day of the week after the god Saturn. In Old English, it was called “Sæternesdæg,” after Saturn, the god of agriculture and time. The Romans of the time often depicted Saturn with a sickle, symbolising the harvest, and he presided over the Golden Age of prosperity and abundance. The association of Saturday with Saturn endures in many languages, such as Spanish (“sábado”) and French (“samedi”), where the day retains its connection to the god of time and agriculture.

Sunday: The Weekday of Light and Life

Finally, we come to Sunday, named after the sun, the celestial body that has inspired awe and reverence since time immemorial. In Old English, it was known as “Sunnandæg,” meaning “Sun’s day.” Many cultures and civilisations worshipped the sun, and some still do, as a symbol of light, warmth, and life-giving energy. The Romans associated Sunday with the sun god, Sol, giving rise to “dies Solis” or “Sun’s day” in Latin. Sunday remains a day of rest and reflection for many, a time to bask in the warmth and light of the sun.


The names of the weekdays may seem mundane, but their origins are anything but. Rooted in ancient mythology, celestial bodies, and cultural traditions, they offer a window into the rich tapestry of human history. From the lunar cycles of Monday to the solar splendour of Sunday, each day carries with it a legacy of meaning and symbolism that continues to shape our lives today. So the next time you glance at your calendar, take a moment to appreciate the stories behind the names of the days of the week, and marvel at the timeless connection between past and present.

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