Of week days, gods and planets

Monday is “Moon Day”, Saturday is Saturn Day, Sunday is, well, Sun day. Ever wonder what happened to Tuesday to Friday? Probably not but here’s an opportunity to find out.

While immersion learning is best, comparing two languages also has benefits: it can assist in vocabulary retention and help understand how words are formed. Following the French tradition, I will start my week on Monday.

So how do English and French compare on the names of the days?

In French, most week days are named after a planet, or to be precise, a Roman God. Monday and Sunday (dimanche) are the two exceptions. The syllabe “di” refers to the latin word dies (day).

Lundi/Monday: from “la lune” (the moon), very similar to “Mo(o)nday”

Mardi/Tuesday: mardi comes from the Latin “day of Mars”, the Roman God of war.

Tuesday also means “day of Mars” but comes from Old English “day of Tiw”, Tiw being the Germanic equivalent to the Roman Mars.


Mercredi/Wednesday
: jour de Mercure “day of Mercury”, the messenger of the Gods. He’s the one with the winged sandals.

Wednesday is day of the Germanic Woden (Odin).

Jeudi/Thursday: jour de Jupiter, who was Mercury’s father bu the way.

Thursday: day of Thor, God of Thunder, equivalent to the Rome’s Jupiter.

Vendredi/Friday: jour de VĂ©nus.

Friday: day of Frigga, who was Odin’s wife. Frigga is the Germanic equivalent of the Roman Venus.

Samedi/Saturday: interestingly, the one day that starts with the same syllable in both languages is one that has a completely different origin. Samedi is “le jour du Chabbat”, day of Sabbath. Sabbath being the weekly holy day of rest in the Hebrew calendar.

Saturday is simply Saturn day.

Dimanche/Sunday: from the latin dies dominicus, day of God, ot represents the day of rest in several religions. The English version follows the planets (or stars in this case) theme. Sunday became the equivalent Sonntag in German.

While there can be differences in the words and their origins depending on the language, one thing is for sure: Mondays and lundis feel the same, no matter what you call them. Thankfully, there is always another vendredi around the corner!

What do you think?

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