The Days of the Week

We say the names of the days of the week constantly, bur for most of us they are nonsense syllables. The seven-day system we use is based on the ancient astrological notion that the seven celestial bodies (the sun, the moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn) revolving around stationary Earth influence what happens on it and that each of these celestial bodies controls the first hour of the day named after it. This system was brought into Hellenistic Egypt from Mesopotamia, where astrology had been practiced for millenniums and where seven had always been a propitious number. In A.D. 321 the Emperor Constantine the Great grafted this astrological system onto the Roman calendar, made the first day of this new week a day of rest and worship for all, and imposed the following sequence and names to the days of the week:

Dies Solis"Sun's Day"
Dies Lunae"Moon's Day"
Dies Martis"Mar's Day"
Dies Mercurii"Mercury's Day"
Dies Jovis"Jove's Day" or "Jupiter's Day"
Dies Veneris"Venus's Day"
Dies Saturni"Saturn's Day."

This new Roman system was adopted with modifications throughout most of western Europe: in the Germanic languages, such as Old English, the names of four of the Roman gods were converted into those of the corresponding Germanic gods. Therefore in Old English we have the following names (with their Modern English developments):

TiwesdaegTuesday (the god Tiu, like Mars, was a god of war)
WodnesdaegWednesday (the god Woden, like Mercury, was quick and eloquent)
ThunresdaegThursday (the god Thunor in Old Norse Thorsdagr influenced the English form)
FrigedaegFriday (the goddess Frigg, like Venus, was the goddess of love)

—From a Dictionary reference.

Not only were the days of the week named after the sun, moon and planets, but also the hours. In Egypt, as in Babylon, the order for this purpose was Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. [Note this order is from slowest moving to fastest moving.] This arrangement places the slower-moving bodies (with respect to the fixed stars) first. Each of the twenty-four hours was consecrated to one of the heavenly bodies. The first hour was assigned to Saturn, and it follows that the eighth, fifteenth, and twenty-second hours would also be Saturn's. The twenty-third hour would fall to Jupiter, the twenty-fourth hour to Mars, and the first hour of the second day would fall to the Sun. Thus, the first hour of the third day would fall to the Moon, that of the fourth day to Mars, that of the fifth day to Mercury, that of the sixth day to Jupiter, and the first hour of the seventh day to Venus (our Friday). The cycle was now completed, and the first hour of the eighth day would return to Saturn and the commencement of a new week.

Larry M. Wright Christianity, Astrology and Myth pg. 9

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