Whose day is this?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

So often in life we accept words as they are.

Often we don't even wonder why. Then one day we learn, for example, how the days of the week were named. I recall that I was quite shocked when I learned those facts.

The Anglo-Saxons, Germanic ancestors of people with an English heritage, were pagans, worshippers of many gods, as were most inhabitants of the ancient world. Therefore, these people who wanted to honor their gods, named the days of the week for them. Today we still use these names.

MONDAY for example, is named for the moon, the heavenly light of the night, the guide for travelers by foot or on horseback. The moon mysteriously changes its image during the month, helps to predict the weather, and inspires many to be roommates. Therefore, the moon should have its day, or so the ancient pagans thought.

TUESDAY is named for the god Tiu or Tiw, an ancient Germanic god of war, who is identified with Tyr, according to my Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. If men were planning to engage in war, they wanted Tiu to be on their side, so they honored him by giving him one day in every week, thus Tiu's day.

WEDNESDAY is named for Woden or Odin, the supreme god and creator in Norse mythology. Surely the ancients believed that Odin, the creator of the universe, should have a day. Therefore, Woden's day became Wednesday.

About now you may be saying, "Only an English or history teacher is interested in all these facts." You may be right. Yet we all use these words when we make our plans, saying them over and over every week without realizing that we inadvertently are praising ancient gods.

THURSDAY is named for Thor, the Norse god of thunder, weather, and crops. The ancients surely wanted to salute the god of thunder. I believe that those men were frightened to death by a sudden summer thunder storm, just as many are today. Also, all dependent upon rain crops, wanted to honor this powerful god who controlled droughts and bountiful harvests. Thus we have Thor's day or Thursday.

FRIDAY is named for Frigga, wife of Odin. Frigga was the goddess of married love, of home, and the hearth. Therefore, when we speak of Friday, we salute the goddess of the home. Ironically, today we do actually thank God for Friday because the week-end is coming up and we can spend more time at home if we are lucky and so desire. Yet ancient people did not have week-ends like ours.

SATURDAY is named for Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Again everyone depended on crops to feed family and cattle. Thus Saturn's day is Saturday.

Deliberately, I left what we call the first day of the week Sunday for last. As I continued to consult my Merriam-Webster, I noted that more is written about Sunday than any other day.

SUNDAY is the Christian analogue of the Jewish Sabbath. Nothing is mentioned about the worship of the sun. Yet I know that as Monday salutes the moon, Sunday honors the son, the heat of the earth, the light of day, the agent of growth in plants and of good mental and physical health in people and animals. However, nowhere is sun worship mentioned except indirectly when speaking of a native American solstice rite, the sun dance.

Therefore, I propose a name change, a spelling change which could take 50 or more years to accomplish. But one day in the future, a young writer could look up SONDAY and find that that particular word was formerly spelled SUNDAY. However, SON DAY will honor and praise Jesus Christ, the son of God, who rose on the first day of the week.

I'll spell SONDAY that way if you will. Old habits are hard to break. But we can start a movement together. However, here's one word of warning: consider for whom the word is being spelled. English teachers and some other instructors do not think highly or newly invented words. That's the way it is. Yet in this case, this instructor will accept SONDAY. Are you game? Let's create a new word!