Let’s talk about the Norse gods and the days of the week. Originally I wanted to do a small post every day this week as a representation for each day of the week. Each of these posts would go into detail explaining how the corresponding day came to be known as that day and where it originated. Example on Wednesday I’d of posted about Odin’s Day or óðinsdagr and so. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of detailed information out there and even as a practitioner of 16 years, there is not much in the memory banks about each day individually.
So I felt the best way to go about this post would be to collect all the information I could. Then put it into one precise and concise source that would be understandable for anyone. As such you will see a table below that has 3 columns. The first gives the modern English name for the day of the week as well as the Old Norse word used for the day of the week. In the Second or middle column is where I have placed the meaning. For me, the meaning is god’s day. And in the last column is the information I have available for each of the corresponding days of the week. I tried to include as much detail as I could without getting long and drawn out.
Now I went another step. Below the table, I shared what I was able to find in regards to how the gods were assigned to what days. Meaning why did Odin get Wednesday or why did Mánis get Monday?
The Norse Gods & The Days Of The Week Table
|Sól Day||Sunday comes from Old English “Sunnandæg," which was derived from an old Germanic interpretation of the Latin phrase dies solis, meaning the sun, and named as "sun's day." In Germanic and Norse mythology we have personified the sun as a goddess named Sól.|
|Mánis Day||Monday Just like all the days of the week are derived from Old English. Monday comes from “Mōnandæg,” named after Máni, the Norse personification of the moon (and Sól's brother).|
|Tyr's Day||Tuesday comes from the Old English word “Tīwesdæg,” after Tiw, or Tyr, the one-handed Norse god of of justice and war. He is equated with Mars, by the Romans.|
|Odin's Day||Wednesday” came from the Old English word “Wōdnesdæg.” The Romans had connected Wōden to Mercury because both were considered guides of souls upon death. “Wednesday is "Wōden's day." Wōden, or Odin, is the ruler of the Norse gods' realm and associated with wisdom, magic, victory, and death.|
|Thor's day||“Thursday” comes from Old English “Þūnresdæg.” otherwise known as the day of Punor. Punor or Thor in the Germanic and Norse cultures and religion is god of thunder. It is based on the Latin dies Iovis. Thursday, "Thor's day," gets its English name after the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, strength, and protection.|
|Freyja's Day||Friday is named after the wife of Odin and comes from Old English “Frīgedæg.”. In Latin, it translates to diēs Veneris meaning Friday, or literally “day of Venus”. Some scholars say her name was Frigg; others say it was Freya; other scholars say Frigg and Freya were two separate goddesses all together. She was often associated with Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty, and fertility.|
|Washing Day||As for Saturday, Germanic and Norse traditions didn’t assign any of their gods to this day of the week. They retained the Roman name instead. The English word “Saturday” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Sæturnesdæg,” which translates to “Saturn’s day.”|
Why The Order of The Week
There is an organization known as ISO or The International Organization for Standardization that has determined that Monday or Mánadagr is to be the first day of the week. They even have a fancy code that dictated it.
According to several astrology sites and as we all know the days are named after the gods, but also planets. Some astrologers point out “the first day of the week is named for the Sun, the brightest object in the sky; the second day for the Moon the second brightest object; the third day is named for the dimmest of all the planets, Mercury. Jupiter is the next brightest object and yet it is the fifth day. The days are apparently not ordered by the brightness of the astronomical objects they celebrate.” Otherwise known as a planetary week.
The reason why we organize our lives around a 7-day week is, quite literally, above our heads. Like many other calendars, today’s Gregorian calendar is ultimately based on the phases of the Moon. It takes the Moon around 29.5 days to cycle through all Moon phases.
By definition, this collection of days is a week. Which is fine I don’t care but I am curious as to how the week was ordered and came to be laid out in the order it is. Okay, let me explain. The table above gives the currently used layout of the days and order of our common week. So let me pose this question. Why didn’t the week get ordered like this:
Let us go even further here. Who determined the order of the days of the week? What reasoning or purpose did the order get assigned in its current and long-standing state?
After continuing my seemingly impossible search I finally found an answer that made some sense. Although I’m not sure why it stuck within the Norse and Germanic cultures. But here is what I found. The Romans did it. Yep, the fucking Romans. Just like everything else on this planet they touched the week too. Not sure why I am surprised. So they determined the order of the days of the week by the speed at which the planets traveled across the sky. So example. Because Saturday is so far away and represents the planet of Saturn its believed it was the furthest away from the earth. Seems like the weekend right? LOL. While Monday is the closest it moves the fastest thus making it the first day of the week. You can find this information and more at Time and Date.
Now you will note some variances here and there amongst different cultures, religions, and so on, but for the most part, generally speaking, the week is recognized as I have depicted in the table above. You should also be aware that the Roman week did not stick or were wrong as we now have Tuesday as the second day of the week and from what I can tell the ISO has done nothing with that.
I hope you find this post useful and informational, maybe a little entertaining with my rant, but hey I just want to know things don’t you?
As always, we love you, and may the gods bless you and keep you and your families safe.