It’s usually a wonderful, let’s take a deep breath and finally relax and look forward to the summer kinda holiday. And I am not forgetting or overlooking the deeper significance of the holiday that is to honor and remember veterans who served and possibly made the ultimate sacrifice of being killed in the line of duty.
I’m not getting that serious.
One of the other thoughts I had about this holiday is, well, that it is a holiday — and how differently a “holi”day can feel from other days.
Think about it. Doesn’t a holiday day feel so much different than a regular day, be it a weekday, a weekend or a Sunday? Each of these days “feels” different.
For example, a holiday usually generates some sort of feeling of, well, excitement for lack of another word. Something out of the ordinary, something out of the norm is probably going to happen today. There’s more of an electricity to the air. Don’t you agree? Something different to look forward to — and a break from your normal routine.
And, with holidays often landing on a Monday, I became curious about the actual days of the week as well.
I discovered in my research that the Greeks named the days of the week after the sun, the moon and the five known planets, which were in turn named after the gods Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite and Cronus. The Greeks apparently called the days of the week the Theon hemerai or “days of the Gods.” The Romans substituted their similar gods for the Greek gods, Mars, Mercury, Jove or Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. The Germanic peoples generally substituted roughly similar gods for the Roman gods, Tiu or Twia, Woden, Thor, Freya or Fria, but not Saturn, which stayed the same. Couldn’t find out why, however, Saturn stayed the same.
In my research, I discovered that the name “Monday” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “monandaeg” or "the moon's day,” sacred to the goddess of the moon.
Weekdays also take on their own “feel.” Tuesdays and Thursday are similar — in opposite ways, that is. Tuesday takes on an increasing feeling of having to concentrate on work and duties; Thursday, I think we slowly start our descent into completing projects and getting ready for the weekend.
Tuesday was named after the Norse god Tyr. Tiu or Twia is the English or Germanic god of war and the sky. He is identified with the Norse god Tyr. But the Germans also call this day Dienstag, which means “Assembly Day,” in Denmark it’s tirsdag and in Sweden tisdag.
The day named after the Norse god Thor is our Thursday. In the Norse languages, this day is called Torsdag. The Romans, however, named this day dies Jovis or “Jove's Day,” after Jove or Jupiter, their most important god.
Wednesdays, known as hump day, as we all know, feels like we’re in the middle of things, in the thick of things. Both past and future converge.
Wednesday is the day named to honor Wodan (Odin). Woden is the chief Anglo-Saxon or Teutonic god and also the leader of the Wild Hunt, whatever that means. Woden comes from the word for “violently insane.” Hmm. Does that possibly explain the sometimes desperate feel to a Wednesday — like that song that goes, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Is what I mean to say, Monday and Tuesday to the right of me, Thursday and Friday to the left of me still to get through, here I am, stuck in the middle of the workweek with all my co-workers? Or not?
Anyway, Friday was named in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg. In Old High German, this day was called frigedag or Freitag these days. To the Romans this day was sacred to the goddess Venus and was known as veneris.
And, I didn’t make this up either, but Friday — and this is really cool — originates from Freya's day, which means “Free.” How cool — and appropriate — is that? Finally, the word Friday, our traditional last day of the workweek, means to be free! How more appropriate could the name of a day be?
Friday, to me, also has a feeling of longing and anticipation for the weekend, of wanting to bring things to conclusion and making plans for the “fun” of the upcoming weekend. Fridays also are traditionally a night when everyone tries to go “out” for dinner, a movie and dancing, among others. We are all ready to let go of the workweek and enjoy ourselves, which we often do, if we aren’t too exhausted from the workweek and spend Friday nights just recuperating at home.
But, we don’t stay recuped.
You see, I must add a caveat to this. It’s the dicotomy of Saturdays.
Now Saturdays are supposed to be part of the weekend — days away from working and days spent concentrating on ourselves. Well, OK, maybe we concentrate on ourselves a bit more, but we just can’t seem to let go of the workweek just yet. Saturday is still usually chock full of work, errands, to-do lists, groceries and honey-dos. Part of our weekend, usually Saturday, is still spent “working.”
Around the first century, the Romans used Saturday as the first day of the week. As the worshipping of the Sun increased, the Sun's day — our Sunday — advanced from being considered the second day of the week to the first. That’s when Saturday became the seventh day.
Saturday was called Saturni or “Saturn's Day” by the ancient Romans in honor of Saturn. In Norse, it was called Lørdag or “washing day.” Interesting. Some actually called Saturday the day to wash. Hmmm. How unusual.
So then Sunday comes along, after Saturday, no matter if it’s first or last in the week. You can almost feel the palpable slowdown of a Sunday morning. Sitting on the porch quietly and serenely sipping a cup of Joe before getting ready for a spiritual boost at church, followed by a family meal, reconnecting. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. It’s more serene than any other day.
The name for Sunday, I’ve discovered, comes from the Latin solis, meaning “sun's day” for the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It is also called Dominica in Latin for the Day of God — the perfect day of the week.