How were the weekdays named?
Ancient man had divided the days of a year into months only. When man began to trade, he felt the need for a break from business, construction and professional activities. He needed time for religious activities, festivals and rest. Different places in the world had their own systems. Some places had a break after five days, some after seven days and others after ten days.
Weekdays are derived from the Anglo-saxon System
The Babylonians observed a break after every six working days. They adopted the seven day wee, as they regarded the number seven as sacred, and every seventh day was treated as a special day. The Jews, too, had a break after every six days, which they called the Sabbath day. The Egyptians next adopted the seven day cycle followed by the Romans. This seven day cycle was adopted by many nations, though they were known by different names.
The Egyptians also adopted the seven day system based on the four phases of the moon- new moon, quarter moon, full moon and last-quarter. Each phase takes approximately 7 days each. The Egyptians named the seven days after the sun, the five then known planets, and the moon. The names were Sunday, Monday, Mars days, Mercury day, Jupiter day, Venus day and Saturday (Saturn’s day).
The present day names of the week are derived from the Anglo-Saxon system. The days have been named after their gods, many of which are old Germanic and Norse gods like Woden and Thor.
Sunday is named after the sun god, and was called sunnandaeg. The moons day is monandaeg or Monday. The next day named after the planet mars, was called tiwesdaeg or Tuesday. Instead of mercury’s name, that of god Woden was given to Wednesday. Jupiter’s day became the god Thor’s day, thursdaeg or Thursday, the day of Venus was named after the wife of Odin, Frigga as Friggdeg or Friday ad Saturn’s day is saeterndaeg or Saturday.
A day used to be measured to be the interval of time between the sunrise and the sunset, but the Romans considered one day to be from midnight to the next midnight which is what the world has adopted today.