The names of the days of the week from the Roman period have been both named after the seven planets of classical astronomy and numbered, beginning with Monday. In Slavic languages, a numbering system was adopted, but beginning with Monday. There was an even older tradition of names in Ancient Indian Astrology which could arguably be the origin of all these naming systems. All of these systems have been adopted in many languages, with some exceptions resulting from a number of religious and secular considerations.
- 1 Weekdays named after planets
- 2 Numbered weekdays
- 3 Mixing of numbering and planetary names
- 4 Notes
- 5 External links
Weekdays named after planets
Between the 1st and 3rd centuries the Roman Empire gradually replaced the eight day Roman nundinal cycle with the seven-day week. The astrological order of the days was explained by Vettius Valens and Dio Cassius (and Chaucer gave the same explanation in his Treatise on the Astrolabe). According to these authors, it was a principle of astrology that the heavenly bodies presided, in succession, over the hours of the day. The Ptolemaic system asserts that the order of the heavenly bodies, from the farthest to the closest to the Earth, is: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. (This order was first established by the Greek Stoics.)
In astrological theory, not only the days of the week, but the hours of the day are dominated by the seven luminaries. If the first hour of a day is dominated by Saturn (), then the second hour is dominated by Jupiter (), the third by Mars (), and so on with the Sun (), Venus (), Mercury (), and the moon (), so that the sequence of planets repeats every seven hours. Therefore, the twenty-fifth hour, which is the first hour of the following day, is dominated by the Sun; the forty-ninth hour, which is the first hour of the next day, by the Moon. Thus, if a day is labelled by the planet which dominates its first hour, then Saturn's day is followed by the Sun's day, which is followed by the Moon's day, and so forth, as shown below.
According to Vettius Valens, the first hour of the day began at sunset, which follows Greek and Babylonian convention. He also states that the light and dark halves of the day were presided over by the heavenly bodies of the first hour of each half. This is confirmed by a Pompeian graffito which calls 6 February 60 a Sunday, even though by modern reckoning it is a Wednesday. Thus this graffito used the daylight naming convention of Valens whereas the nighttime naming convention of Valens agrees with the modern astrological reckoning, which names the day after the ruler of the first daylight hour.
These two overlapping weeks continued to be used by Alexandrian Christians during the 4th century, but the days in both were simply numbered 1–7. Although names of gods were not used, the week beginning on Wednesday was named in Greek ton theon ([day] of the gods), as used by the late fourth-century editor of the Easter letters of Bishop Athanasius, and in a table of Easter dates for 311–369 that survives in an Ethiopic copy. These overlapping weeks are still used in the Ethiopic computus. Each of the days of the week beginning on Sunday is called a "Day of John" whereas each of the days of the week beginning on Wednesday is called a "tentyon", a simple transcription of the Greek ton theon.
Hour: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Stellar Object → Day Day 1 Saturn → Saturday Day 2 Sun → Sunday Day 3 Moon → Monday Day 4 Mars → Tuesday Day 5 Mercury → Wednesday Day 6 Jupiter → Thursday Day 7 Venus → Friday
The earliest attestation of a seven day week associated with heavenly luminaries are from Vettius Valens, an astrologer writing ca 170 AD in his Anthologiarum. The order was Sun, Moon, Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Cronos. From Greece the planetary week names passed to the Romans, and from Latin to other languages of southern and western Europe, and to other languages later influenced by them.
In pre-Christian Gaelic-Irish society, time was measured in "one-, three-, five-, ten-, or fifteen-day periods; the seven-day week was entirely unknown." (Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, 2003, p. 7). MS. 17, dating from at least 1043, is now held at St. John's College, Oxford. It records five week-day lists, which it names as follows: secundum Hebreos ('Hebrew' days); secundum antiquos gentiles (Roman days of the week);secundum Siluestrum papam (a list derived from the apocryphal Acta Syluestri); secundum Anglos (Anglo-Saxon week-days); secundum Scottos (days of the week 'according to the Irish'). Each term begins with the word Diu, Classical Old Irish for dia, day. Diu, according to Ó Cróinín, "we have a clear reflex of the Indo-European nominative singular, with a lenghtened grade, giving arhaic Old Irish diu; it is suggested that what we have in the Oxford list and in Cormac's Glossary is the oldest form of Old Irish dia, representing the old nominative case of the noun in adverbial usage." (Ó Cróinín, 2003, p. 12).
The names in the Irish list are:
- dies scrol - Sunday. The word scrol is glossed in Sanas Cormaic as Scroll .i. soillsi, unde est aput Scottos diu srol .i. dies solis/Sroll, that is brightness, when 'diu srol' among the Irish, that is Sunday.
- Diu luna - Monday. Ó Cróinín has Diu luna as "represent[ing] the transitioal form between Latin dies lunae and the later, Classical Old Irish dia luain ... a translation of, not a calque on, the Latin ... [It] would seem to reflect a pre-assimilation state in respect of both words" (2003, p. 13), again demonstrating the antiquity of the forms. It is now rendered as Dia luain, Monday.
- Diu mart - Tuesday. "The Irish word perhaps derives from Latin forms where cases other than the genetive were used, e.g., Marte." (2003, p. 15)
- Diu iath - Wednesday. A form unique to Irish, meaning uncertain. See following.
- Diu eathamon - Thursday. A form unique to Irish. Ó Cróinín writes "I suggest that it means simply 'on Thursday' ... it is temporal dat. of an n-stem (nom. sg. etham, gen. sg. ethamon - as in our Oxford list - and acc./dat. sg. ethamain)." (2003, p. 17) He furthermore suggests that etham ('arable land') "may be a noun of agency from ith (gen. sg. etho), with a meaning like corn-maker or some such thing; Diu eathamon might then be a day for sowing seed in a weekly regimen of activities such as we find in Críth Gablach." (2003, p. 17). A "very old" word for Wednesday, Mercúir (borrowed from the Latin (dies) Mercurii), does occur in early Leinster poems but Ó Cróinín is of the belief that Diu eathamon "reflects a still older Irish word for 'Wednesday';".
- Diu triach - Friday. A form unique to Irish, its meaning unclear.
- Diu satur - Saturday. Error for Diu Saturn, because of omission of the n-stroke.
The form Ethomuin is found in Rawlinson B 502.
The Germanic peoples adapted the system introduced by the Romans but glossed their indigenous gods over the Roman deities (with the exception of Saturday) in a process known as Interpretatio germanica. The date of the introduction of this system is not known exactly, but it must have happened later than AD 200 but before the introduction of Christianity during the 6th to 7th centuries, i.e. during the final phase or soon after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. This period is later than the Common Germanic stage, but still during the phase of undifferentiated West Germanic. The weekday names in Scandinavian languages were not calqued from Latin directly, but taken from the West Germanic names.
- Sunday: Old English Sunnandæg (pronounced [sun.nan.dæg] or [sun.nan.dæj), meaning "sun's day". This is a translation of the Latin phrase dies Solis. English, like most of the Germanic languages, preserves the original pagan/sun associations of the day. Many other European languages, including all of the Romance languages, have changed its name to the equivalent of "the Lord's day" (based on Ecclesiastical Latin dies Dominica). Compare: Spanish and Portuguese domingo, French dimanche, Romanian duminică, Italian domenica and Irish domhnach. In both West Germanic and North Germanic mythology the sun is personified as a goddess, Sunna/Sól.
- Monday: Old English Mōnandæg (pronounced [mon.nan.dæg] or [mon.nan.dæj'), meaning "moon's day". This is likely based on a translation of the Latin name dies lunae (cf. Romance language versions of the name, e.g., French lundi, Spanish lunes, Romanian luni, Italian lunedì, Irish luan). In North Germanic mythology, the moon is personified as a god, Máni.
- Tuesday: Old English Tīwesdæg (pronounced [ti.wes.dæg] or [ti.wes.dæj], meaning "Tiw's day." Tiw (Norse Týr) was a one-handed god associated with single combat and pledges in Norse mythology and also attested prominently in wider Germanic paganism. The name of the day is based on Latin dies Martis, "Day of Mars" (the Roman war god); compare: French mardi, Spanish martes, Romanian marţi, Italian martedì and Irish mairt.
- Wednesday: Old English Wōdnesdæg (pronounced [woːd.nes.dæg] or [woːd.nes.dæj) meaning the day of the Germanic god Wodan (later known as Óðinn among the North Germanic peoples), and a prominent god of the Anglo-Saxons (and other Germanic peoples) in England until about the seventh century. It is based on Latin dies Mercurii, "Day of Mercury"; compare: French mercredi, Spanish miércoles, Romanian miercuri and Italian mercoledì. The connection between Mercury and Odin is more strained than the other syncretic connections. The usual explanation is that both Wodan and Mercury were considered psychopomps, or leaders of souls, in their respective mythologies; both are also associated with poetic and musical inspiration. The Icelandic Miðviku, German Mittwoch and Finnish keskiviikko all mean 'mid-week'.
- Thursday: Old English Þūnresdæg (pronounced [θuːn.res.dæg] or [θuːn.res.dæj]), meaning the Þunor's day. Þunor is commonly known in Modern English as Thor, the god of thunder in Germanic Paganism. Old High German's name for Þunor, Donar, leads to Donnerstag. (The modern German word for "thunder" is still Donner.) The day is based on the Latin dies Iovis, "day of Jupiter"; compare: French jeudi, Spanish jueves, Romanian joi and Italian giovedì. In the Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the chief god, who seized and maintained his power on the basis of his thunderbolt (Fulmen).
- Friday: Old English Frīgedæg (pronounced [fri.je.dæg] or [fri.je.dæj]), meaning the day of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Fríge. The Norse name for the planet Venus was Friggjarstjarna, 'Frigg's star'. It is based on the Latin dies Veneris, "Day of Venus"; compare: French vendredi, Spanish viernes, Romanian vineri and Italian venerdì. Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty, love and sex.
- Saturday: the only day of the week to retain its Roman origin in English, named after the Roman god Saturn associated with the Titan Cronus, father of Zeus and many Olympians. Its original Anglo-Saxon rendering was Sæturnesdæg (pronounced [sæ.tur.nes.dæg] or [sæ.tur.nes.dæj]). In Latin it was dies Saturni, "Day of Saturn"; compare French samedi. The Spanish and Portuguese sábado, the Romanian sâmbătă, and the Italian sabato come from Sabbata dies (Day of the Sabbath). The Scandinavian Lørdag/Lördag deviates significantly as it has no reference to the old norse gods, the latin gods nor the roman gods. It derives from old norse laugardagr, which literary translates to washing-day.
The Greco-Roman scheme of planetary names was also adopted into Indian astrology during the 2nd century AD. Sanskrit attestations of the navagraha "nine astrological forces", seven of which are used for day names, date to the Yavanajataka "Sayings of the Greeks", a 150 AD translation of a 120 AD Greek Alexandrian text.
This was probably the oldest and the most original tradition which traveled through ambassadors to the Near East and beyond into Europe. This forms the basis of week day names in most Indian languages and the languages of South Asia and South East Asia.
Though the explanation on the sequence of the name is only available in ancient texts in India. Which goes as below,
The division of days among the planets was done based on the speed of each planet as perceived from earth. Sun and Moon being the nearest and most important planets were allotted first two days and then the planet next in sequence to the original position of the planet was given the next day.. The sequence based on speed is Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
So after Sunday and Monday, the next to Sun was Mars hence the day was 'Mangalwar', next to moon was Mercury and hence 'Budhawar' next Mars was Jupiter and hence Guruwar , next to Mercury was Venus and hence ‘Shukrawar’ , next to Jupiter was Saturn and hence ‘Shaniwar’ and thus the seven names in this particular sequence.
Surya (the Sun)
Soma (the Moon)
Urdu Itwaar اتوار Peer پیر[☽4] or Somwar سوموار Mangal منگل Budh بدھ Jumaa-raat جمعراتRaat = Eve Jumaah جمعہ[♀4] Saneechar سنیچرor ہفتہ Haftah [♄6] Burmese တနင်္ဂနွေ
IPA: [tənɪ́ɴ ɡənwè]
IPA: [tənɪ́ɴ là]
IPA: [ɪ̀ɴ ɡà]
IPA: [bouʔ dəhú]
IPA: [tɕà ðà bədé]
IPA: [θauʔ tɕà]
Mon တ္ၚဲ အဒိုတ်
from Sans. āditya
from Sans. candra
from Sans. aṅgāra
from Sans. budhavāra
from Sans. bṛhaspati
from Sans. śukra
တ္ၚဲ သ္ၚိ သဝ်
[ŋoa hɔeʔ sɔ]
from Sans. śani
Tamil ஞாயிற்று கிழமை
IPA: [wan˦ ʔaː˩ tit˥]
IPA: [wan˦ tsan˩]
IPA: [wan˦ ʔaŋ˦ kan˦]
IPA: [wan˦ pʰut˥]
IPA: [wan˦ pʰat˦]
IPA: [wan˦ sʰuk˦]
IPA: [wan˦ sʰaw˩]
Javanese Raditya Soma Anggara Buda Respati Sukra Tumpek Balinese Redite Coma Anggara Buda Wraspati Sukra Saniscara Punjabi ਐਤਵਾਰ
East Asian Seven Luminaries
The East Asian naming system of weekdays closely parallels that of the Latin system and is ordered after the "Seven Luminaries" (七曜), which consists of the Sun, Moon and the five planets visible to the naked eye. The five planets are named after the five elements in traditional East Asian philosophy: Fire (Mars), Water (Mercury), Wood (Jupiter), Metal (Venus), and Earth (Saturn). The earliest known reference in East Asia to the seven-day week in its current order and name is the writings attributed to the Chinese astrologer Fan Ning, who lived in the late 4th century of Jin Dynasty. Later diffusions from the Manichaeans are documented with the writings of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yi Jing and the Ceylonese Buddhist monk Bu Kong of the 8th century under the Tang Dynasty. The Chinese transliteration of the planetary system was soon brought to Japan by the Japanese monk Kobo Daishi; surviving diaries of the Japanese statesman Fujiwara Michinaga show the seven day system in use in Heian Period Japan as early as 1007. In Japan, the seven day system was kept in use (for astrological purposes) until its promotion to a full-fledged (Western-style) calendrical basis during the Meiji era. In China, with the founding of the Republic of China in 1911, Monday through Saturday in China are now numbered one through six, with the reference to the Sun remaining for Sunday （星期日）.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Celestial Object Sun (日) Moon (月) Mars (火) Mercury (水) Jupiter (木) Venus (金) Saturn (土) Chinese (now obsolete) 日曜日 Rìyàorì 月曜日 Yuèyàorì 火曜日 Huǒyàorì 水曜日 Shuǐyàorì 木曜日 Mùyàorì 金曜日 Jīnyàorì 土曜日 Tǔyàorì Japanese 日曜日 Nichiyōbi 月曜日 Getsuyōbi 火曜日 Kayōbi 水曜日 Suiyōbi 木曜日 Mokuyōbi 金曜日 Kin'yōbi 土曜日 Doyōbi Korean (Hangul) 일요일 Iryoil 월요일 Woryoil 화요일 Hwayoil 수요일 Suyoil 목요일 Mogyoil 금요일 Geumyoil 토요일 Toyoil Tibetan (བོད་ཡིག) གཟའ་ཉི་མ། གཟའ་ཟླ་བ། གཟའ་མིག་དམར། གཟའ་ལྷག་པ། གཟའ་ཕུར་བུ། གཟའ་པ་སངས། གཟའ་སྤེན་པ།
- Pronunciations for Old Chinese names are given in Modern Standard Chinese.
Weekdays numbered from Sunday
In the Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic tradition, the first day of the week is Sunday. Biblical Sabbath (corresponding to Saturday), when God rested from six-day Creation, made the day following Sabbath the first day of the week (corresponding to Sunday). Seventh-day Sabbaths were sanctified for celebration and rest. After the week was adopted in early Christianity, Sunday remained the first day of the week, but also gradually displaced Saturday as the day of celebration and rest, being considered the Lord's Day.
Saint Martin of Dumio (c. 520–580), archbishop of Braga, decided it unworthy to call days by pagan gods and decided to use ecclesiastic terminology to designate them. This was the birth of the present Portuguese numbered system. Martin also tried to replace the names of the planets, but was not successful. In the Middle Ages, Galician-Portuguese retained both systems. The Roman gods' names are still used in Galician.
In the Hebrew and Islamic calendars the days extend from sunset to sunset. Thus, Jewish Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and extends into Saturday nightfall when three stars become visible. The first day of the Islamic calendar, yaum al-ahad, starts on Saturday after sunset and extends to sunset on Sunday.
Icelandic is notably divergent, maintaining only the Sun and Moon (sunnudagur and mánudagur respectively), while dispensing with the names of the explicitly heathen gods in favour of a combination of numbered days and days whose names are linked to pious or domestic routine (föstudagur, "Fasting Day" and laugardagur, "Washing Day"). The "washing day" is also used in other North Germanic languages, although the Pagan names generally are retained.
Icelandic sunnudagur (Sun) mánudagur (Moon) þriðjudagur miðvikudagur [☿1] fimmtudagur föstudagur [♀1] laugardagur [♄2] Hebrew יום ראשון
Literal transl.: 1st Day
Literal transl.: 2nd Day
Literal transl.: 3rd Day
Literal transl.: 4th Day
Literal transl.: 5th Day
Literal transl.: 6th Day
Literal transl.: day of rest
Ecclesiastical Latin Dominica [☉1] feria secunda feria tertia feria quarta feria quinta feria sexta sabbatum [♄1] Portuguese domingo [☉1] segunda-feira terça-feira quarta-feira quinta-feira sexta-feira sábado [♄1] Greek Κυριακή
Vietnamese chủ nhật or chúa nhật [☉1] (ngày) thứ hai (ngày) thứ ba (ngày) thứ tư (ngày) thứ năm (ngày) thứ sáu (ngày) thứ bảy Malay Ahad Isnin Selasa Rabu Khamis Jumaat [♀4] Sabtu [♄5] Arabic يوم الأحد
yaum al-jum‘ah [♀4]
yaum as-sabt [♄5]
Maltese Il-Ħadd It-Tnejn It-Tlieta L-Erbgħa Il-Hamis Il-Gimgħa [♀4] Is-Sibt [♄5] Indonesian Minggu [☉1] (Portuguese) Senin Selasa Rabu Kamis Jumat [♀4] Sabtu [♄5] Javanese Ngaat / Akad meaning? Senen Slasa Rebo Kemis Jemuwah [♀4] Setu [♄5] Sundanese Minggu / Minggon Senén Salasa Rebo Kemis Jumaah [♀4] Saptu [♄5] Persian یکشنبه
آدینه Adineh [♀3] or
جمعه Jomeh [♀4]
(Night & Day) shabAneh rooz
Turkish pazar [☉4] pazartesi [☽2] salı çarşamba perşembe cuma [♀4] cumartesi [♄4] Old Turkic birinç kün ikinç kün üçünç kün törtinç kün beşinç kün altınç kün yetinç kün
Weekdays numbered from Monday
Chinese Sunday means "week day" (星期日 or 星期天). Monday is named literally "first day of the (seven-day) week cycle", Tuesday is "second day of the (seven-day) week cycle", and so on. When China adopted the Western calendar Sunday was at the beginning of the calendar week but today Monday is preferred.
A second way to refer to weekdays is using the word zhōu (周), meaning "cycle." Therefore Sunday is referred to as zhōumò (周末), meaning "cycle's end" and Monday to Saturday are termed accordingly zhōuyī (周一) "first of cycle," zhōu'èr (周二) "second of cycle," and etc.
Another Chinese numbering system, found in spoken Mandarin and in southern dialects/languages (i.e. Cantonese and Min), refers to Sunday as the "day of worship" (lǐbàirì 禮拜日 or lǐbàitiān 禮拜天) and numbers the other days "first [day after] worship" (Monday) through to "sixth [day after] worship" (Saturday). The Chinese word used for "worship" is associated with Christian and Muslim worship.
Weekdays numbered from Saturday
In Swahili the day begins at sunrise, rather than ending at sunset, and so offset by twelve hours from the Arabic and Hebrew calendar. Saturday is therefore the first day of the week, as it is the day which includes the first night of the week in Arabic. Etymologically speaking, Swahili has two fifth days of the week, although this is not widely recognized. The word for Wednesday, Jumatano, contains the number five in Swahili: tano. Tano is of Bantu origin. The word for Thursday, Alhamisi, is of Arabic origin and literally means the fifth (day). The word for Friday, Ijumaa, is also of Arabic and means (day of) gathering for the Friday noon prayers in Islam.
Day of Congregational Prayers
Swahili jumamosi jumapili jumatatu jumanne jumatano alhamisi [♃2] ijumaa [♀4]
Mixing of numbering and planetary names
In the Žejane dialect of Istro-Romanian, lur (Monday) and virer (Friday) follow the Latin convention, while utorek (Tuesday), sredu (Wednesday), and četrtok (Thursday) follow the Slavic convention.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Istro-Romanian, Žejane dialect lur utorek sredu četrtok virer simbota [♄1] dumireca [☉1]
There are several systems in the different Basque dialects.
Day: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Standard Basque, Guipuscoan Basque astelehena ("week-first") asteartea ("week-between") asteazkena ("week-last") osteguna ("Ortzi/Sky day") ostirala (see Ortzi) larunbata ("fourth", "meeting of friends"), neskenegun ("girls' day") igandea Biscayne Basque astelena ("week-first"), ilen ("Moon day") martitzena ("Mars day") eguaztena ("day last") eguena ("day of days", "day of light") barikua ("day without supper"), egubakotx zapatua (compare with Spanish sábado from Sabbath) domeka (from Latin dominica [dies])
♄1 Shabbat or seventh-day Sabbath (Judeo–Christian)
♄2 Wash or Bath day
♄3 Sun-eve (Eve of Sunday)
♄4 After the Gathering (Islam)
♄5 End of the Week (Arabic Sabt = Rest) (Islam)
♄7 Half good day holy day
- Akan names of the seven-day week, known as Nawotwe
- Week Wheel for Children
- Work Week
- Seven-day week
- Calculating the day of the week
- Brown, Cecil H. (1989). "Naming the days of the week: A cross-language study of lexical acculturation". Current Anthropology 30 (4): 536–550. doi:10.1086/203782. JSTOR 2743391.
- Falk, Michael (1999). "Astronomical Names for the Days of the Week". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 93: 122–133. Bibcode 1999JRASC..93..122F. doi:10.1016/j.newast.2003.07.002.
- Neugebauer, Otto (1979). Ethiopic astronomy and computus, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, philosophisch-historische klasse, sitzungsberichte, 347 (Vienna)
- Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese (much history of Western systems too)
- Planetary Linguistics and the Days of the Week — The Definitive Site
- Days of the week and months of the year in many different languages
- The Days of the Week
- The days of the week in various languages
- RSS feed to show weekday names in indian languages
- ^ see J. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, p. 122-123
- ^ "Judaism 101". JewFAQ.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- ^ Falk, Michael (1999-03-19). "Astronomical names for the days of the week". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 93 (1999–06): 122–133. Bibcode 1999JRASC..93..122F. doi:10.1016/j.newast.2003.07.002.
- ^ Swahili days, months, dates
- ^ http://www.istrianet.org/istria/linguistics/istrorumeno/news/05_1000language-month.htm
- ^ Astronomy and Basque Language, Henrike Knörr, Oxford VI and SEAC 99 "Astronomy and Cultural Diversity", La Laguna, June 1999. It references Alessandro Bausani, 1982, The prehistoric Basque week of three days: archaeoastronomical notes, The Bulletin of the Center for Archaeoastronomy (Maryland), v. 2, 16-22.
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