Friday, May 26, 2006

Days and Months

When I woke this morning (to the yapping of Miki, our little puppy who badly needed to go outside), I had to think for a moment to remember what day it was (it’s Friday, in case you’re wondering). And then, for some reason, I got to wondering just how “Friday” got its name — and what it actually means.

A little googling got me all sorts of information, the best compendium of which is here. An example from that page:

Thursday: “Thursday” is what you get when you spend several centuries misprouncing, Thorsdaeg. The day of Thor, son of Woden, was the Norse god who was the defender of the world from Chaos with his trademark Hammer of Thor. In Romance languages it is named 'dies Jovis' for the day of Jupiter, the Supreme Roman deity.

That same page has an explanation of the origins for the English names of the months. As for the word “month” itself:

First,How did we get the word 'Month': … The Lunar Cycle begins with a “New Moon”. This actually happened on the 31st of December, so in the Calendar we see the moon when it is “one day old.” When is the next time you see the moon one day old? The answer is on Jan 30th (It is just a tiny little sliver that the camera used couldn’t pick up.) How many days passed between those two identical phases? 29.6 days, within minutes of 30 days. If we were living back in the ancient past, they would say “One moon has passed.” From one new moon (Dec 30) to the next new moon (in this case, Jan 29th) is one moon. This period of time is a “moon-th", a month. Now you should be asking a question, “Then why aren’t there 30 days in every month?” The answer is, Julius Caeser said so. I’ll explain, while doing so, I’ll tell you where the names of the months came from.

So basically it turns out our months were named by lazy Romans, and our days of the week taken from Norse mythology. Go figure!

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