New names for the days of the week

By Murray Bourne, 30 Dec 2009

As the year draws to a close, I'm reminded of a proposal I read somewhere.

The names for the days of the week in English, and most European languages, are based on ancient beliefs. The origin for these names (and even why we have 7 days in a week) is not so clear, but in the days when you could actually see the sky and people were trying to figure out how the universe worked, it's not surprising the heavenly bodies were used in the naming system.

Sunday Sun sun day
Monday Moon moon day
Tuesday Mars Tiu's day (Tiu is the god of war, as is Mars)
Wednesday Mercury Wodan's day (Woden means "violently insane headship")
Thursday Jupiter Thor's day (god of thunder)
Friday Venus Freya's day (Freya is the goddess of love, beauty, and prolific procreation)
Saturday Saturn Saturn's day (god of agriculture)

So considering most of us never even see the planets (due to air and light pollution), perhaps we need to consider new names for the days of the week. This proposal is quite mathematically neat (and uses Monday as the starting day).

Monday Oneday
Tuesday TwoDay
Wednesday Threeday
Thursday Fourday
Friday Fiveday
Saturday Sixday
Sunday Sevenday

There's actually a language that has such a system - Chinese. The names and meanings are:

Sunday 星期日 Star period day
Monday 星期一 Star period one
Tuesday 星期二 Star period two
Wednesday 星期三 Star period three
Thursday 星期四 Star period four
Friday 星期五 Star period five
Saturday 星期六 Star period six

There's an interesting history of Japanese and Chinese day names here: Bathrobe's Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese. According to that site, the Chinese used a 10-day per week system up until 1912 when the imperial system collapsed.

So what do you think? Is it time to re-consider the names of the week to a simpler and more logical system?

See the 3 Comments below.

3 Comments on “New names for the days of the week”

  1. Sue VanHattum says:

    Portuguese also does this sort of thing. Sunday is domingo, Monday is segunda-feira (2nd day), ..., Friday is sexta-feira, and Saturday is sabado.

    My brain already had Monday to Friday labeled as days 1 to 5 of the school/work week, so I always have to double check myself when speaking Portuguese to make sure I'm saying the day I mean.

  2. Murray says:

    Thanks for the input, Sue and good to hear from you.

    I'm wondering how many other languages use such a system already?

  3. Frank Williams says:

    I quite like the idea but I have two considerations.

    1) If we went with something like "oneday","twoday"... then it seems that we should be going with "oneday" being the Sunday rather than Monday to keep in sync with God's Sabbath day. Also, "Twoday" not being "Today" could be confusing.

    2) How about all new short names that are the same number of characters, with each name starting with a unique character. We'd really need Dr Zeuss on the job do to this well...

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