rōma  aeterna latīna ubīque


Latin Lives On…in the days of the week.

Where do the names of the days of the week come from?

   The French, Italians, and Spanish all derive the names for their days of the week from the Latin names of Roman gods.  In English, we name our days of the week after ancient Saxon/Germanic gods who had the same divine associations as their Roman counterparts. Nevertheless, even in English 'Saturday' is named after a Roman, not a Germanic, god.   In Scandinavia, the Germanic word for Saturday is Lørdag, an ancient word meaning "bath".  Apparently the Vikings took one bath a week and it was on Saturday, so they called that day "bath day".  Perhaps the Saxons in ancient England didn't like baths; at any rate,  they preferred to use a  Roman name for this day!

English

Saxon/Germanic

Title of God

Roman

French

Italian

Spanish

Monday

Mona

The Moon

Luna

(dies Lunae)

Lundi

lunedi

lunes

Tuesday

Tiu

God of War

Mars

(dies Martis )

Mardi

martedi

martes

Wednesday

Woden

The Cunning God

Mercurius

(dies Mercurii)

Mercredi

mercoledi

miercoles

Thursday

Thor

Thunder God

Jovis

(dies Jovis)

Jeudi

giovedi

jueves

Friday

Freya

Goddess of Love

Venus

(dies Veneris)

Vendredi

venerdi

viernes

Saturday

---

God of Time

Saturnus

 (dies Saturni )

Samedi

sabato

sabado

Sunday

Sunne

The Sun

Sol (Sun)

( dies Solis)

Dimanche

domenica

domingo

   Early Romans did not use a seven-day week;  instead, following the example of the Etruscans, they used a “market week” of eight days, in which each day was identified by a letter from  A to H. This market week  is known as the "nundinal cycle", and the final day of each cycle was always a market day on which country people would come to the city with their produce, and  city people would buy their eight days' worth of groceries.

   Since the length of an astronomical year is not a multiple of 8 days, the Romans eventually replaced this method of reckoning time in favor of a seven day week in which the days were named after the sun, the moon, and the five planets visible at night to the naked eye.  It was this seven-day Roman week, which had received astronomical fine tuning and whose year had  been lengthened to 365 days  by Julius Caesar in 46 BC,  that was ultimately adopted by Emperor Constantine in 321 AD,  when he officially recognized Christianity for the Roman Empire. It is through the spread of that religion around the globe that the ancient Roman week has descended to our contemporary world.



o
http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman/daysweek.htm        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week
o