announcement

Check our homepage for new, visually rich, fast and immersive experiences!

From Monday to Sunday: A Peek at the Evolution of Week

Monday to Sunday Makes One Week
How did the week originate? And how were the names of the weekdays derived?
Mysticurious Staff
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2018
history
A week [Latin - 'vicis' meaning 'change'] was originally an interval between Market Days, i.e. the day on which farmers and traders would gather at a particular location to buy and sell goods. The duration was five days in Central Asia, seven in Babylon, eight in Rome and ten days in Egypt.
Weekdays table over blackboard
But slowly the seven-day week gained prominence and today it is used as a standard division of time around the world. A week as defined by Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary is, 'any of a series of 7-day cycles used in various calendars; especially a 7-day cycle beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.'
Tree and star trails
In ancient time when man looked up towards the sky and saw the sun and the moon, the planets and the stars, he believed that the earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around it.
Planets & Stars
As the study progressed, man separated the different heavenly objects into stars, planets etc. Without the use of the instruments like telescopes, only a certain part of the sky was decipherable and it was thus assumed that our solar system consisted of the sun, the moon and five other planets.
Planets and Solar system
These were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. If you've realized, these are the planets that are either nearest to Earth or the biggest and thus visible with the naked eye.
Sand Beige Ancient Egypt Wallpaper
Egyptians believed that the seven objects were Gods and governed each hour of the day. The moon was thought to be the closest to Earth and was followed by Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Ancient Egyptian Art
The sequence in which they ruled the hours was considered to be in the inverse order of their distance from Earth. Thus the first hour was ruled by Saturn, the second by Jupiter, the third by Mars and so on.
At the end of the seventh hour, the entire sequence was repeated, thus Saturn also ruled the 8th, 15th and 22nd hours, Jupiter managed the 23rd hour, Mars the 24th and the 1st hour of the next day was governed by the Sun.
Another belief was that the God that ruled the first hour of the day also ruled the day, thus the first day was ruled by Saturn, the second day by the Sun, the third by the moon, followed by Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus.
Hampi With Foggy Mountains
It is also fascinating to note that the same solar system objects and in the same sequence have been used in ancient India, Tibet and Burma as also Japan to name the days of the weeks.
It is now easy to see how some of the days were named. For instance, Saturday is Saturn's day (a Roman God of planting and harvest), Sunday is sun's day, while Monday is moon's day (Anglo-Saxon monandaeg).
And as for the remaining...
Isometric Mars planet
Tuesday is derived from Mars, the Roman god of war. The Germanic (Teutonic) word for the warrior god is 'Tiu' or 'Tiw' and thus Tiw's-day.
Isometric Mercury planet vector illustration
Wednesday is Mercury's or Wotan's-day. 'Wotan' was a Teutonic God of war, who usurped many of the roles and functions of Tiu as he became more and more popular.
Isometric Jupiter planet
Thursday is Jupiter's day, who was the Roman God of thunder and lightning. Thursday comes from Germanic thunder-god Donar, known as 'Thor' to the Scandinavians. Thursday is thus Thor's-day or Torsdag.
Venus Planet
Friday is the day of Venus, the Roman goddess of spring and the Greek goddess of love. The Scandinavian goddess of love is 'Frigg' from whose name is derived Friday or Frigg's-day.
But how is it that although according to the above, Saturday should be the first day of the week; we usually consider Sunday to be the first day?
history
According to a theory, the 7th day of the week in Hebrew is Shabbat or day of holiness and rest, observed from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday. Thus Saturday was important, but its importance waned, as Christianity, considering Sunday as very important, took deeper roots.
Jesus Christ In The Heaven Fresco
Sunday in Christianity is the day on which God rested after creating the Universe, it is also the day on which Jesus Christ was resurrected and thus a holy day and a day of prayer and rest.
The Sun vector illustration
Another source states that with increasing worship of the sun, Sunday, gained prominence and soon became the first day of the week. Sunday is not necessarily always the first day of the week.
Some countries, especially in Europe have Monday as the first day. International Standard 'ISO 8601:1988 (E)' states: 
5.4 Combinations of date and time of day representations
3.0 Terms and Definitions
3.17 Week Calendar
"A seven-day period within a calendar year, starting on Monday and identified by the ordinal number within a year..."
history
But whatever the theories, it is fascinating to know that each time someone asks you what day of the week it is, the answer resonates not just in your mind but also in time and space, touching a chord centuries back in history and on planets, as far away as Saturn.