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The Names for the Days of the Week

The names for the days of the week in English seem to be a mixed bag. Saturday, Sunday and Monday are named after the celestrial bodies, Saturn, Sun and Moon, but the other days are named after Germanic gods, Tuesday (Tiw's day), Wednesday (Woden's day), Thursday (Thor's day) and Friday (Freya's day). This is more of an apparent difference than a real difference as will be explained later. But first consider those Germanic gods and goddess. Thors is familiar as the god of thunder who had a boomarang hammer such that he could throw it and destroy something or someone at a distance but magically reappear back in his hand. (This sounds like a description of someone using a pistol by someone completely unfamiliar with guns. The shape would roughly correspond to a type of hammer. The report would be described as thunder. The destruction of something at a distance would be like be hit by a hammer. Is the god Thor evidence of a time traveler appearing in ancient Germanic times?) The god Woden or Odin was the god of wisdom who sacrifised one eye to gain the wisdom necessary to save the world. Freya was the goddess of love. But who was Tiw?

The most striking story of Tiw is how he saved the abode of the gods Asgard from the giant wold Fenfir. Fenfir was brought into Asgard as a cub. As he grew he became mor and more destructive. The gods tried to constrain him with ropes and chains but Fenfir broke the strongest of these. Fenfir even gloried in breaking the constraints the gods tried to impose upon him. He even allowed them to chain him so he could demonstrate that his power was greater than the strongest chain. After trying every constraint the gods of Asgard securing a magical rope. When the gods came to him with this new constraint Fenfir became suspicious. He said he would allow them to put the rope upon him only if one of the gods guaranteed that no trick was involved by placing his right hand in Fenfirs mouth. Tiw volunteered to do this and the rope was used to tie Fenfir. When Fenfir found he could not break the rope he bit off Tiw's hand, as Tiw knew would happen. This was another case of a god sacrificing something, as did Woden, for the good of the folk.

As mentioned above the naming of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was less at odds with the naming of Saturday, Sunday and Monday than it seems. Freya, the Germanic goddess of love, corresponds to the Roman goddess of love, Venus, for whom the planet Venus is named. Tiw, roughly corresponds to the Roman god of war, Mars, whom another planet was named. The Roman god Jupiter was known for throwing bolts of lightening and therefore there was a correspondence with the Germanic god of thunder, Thor. In the Roman calendar the day between Mars' day (Tuesday) and Jupiter's day (Thursday) was Mercury's day. Somehow the ancient Germans found a correspondence between Mercury and Woden. Thus the days of the week in the Roman calendar were Sun's day, Moon's day, Mars' day, Mercury's day, Jupiter's day, Venus's day and Saturn's day. The days were not named after the gods, the days were named after the celestial bodies, which in some cases were named after gods and a goddess.

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