Friday, December 2, 2011

Riddle of Days


Vermont, Statuesque, Swedish, Arthur's, Africa, Sensation, Misunderstood

How do these words connect? It’s a riddle a friend sprung on me. I enjoy these word games if I can figure them out. I can’t stand them when I don’t. I regress to those times in school when I forgot my homework. In this case I hadn’t a clue. I looked at the vowels, their order and the consonants that surrounded them. The alphabet ran in my head. I came up blank. And then he gave me the answer ……… they all contain an abbreviation for the days of the week.

That got me thinking about these names, from whence they came and what memories and meanings are attached to them.

Monday derived from the Old English. Monandaeg, was seen as Moonday by astrologers because it aligns with the moon. I’ve learned never to argue with astrologers, fearing they might consign me to horoscope hell. I’m retrograde enough as it is. For many Americans it is named Monday because that is when Monday night football happens.

The question whether Monday is the first or second day of the week is still unsettled even though the major religions all assign Sunday as the first day of the week. God labored in his creation experiment for six days and gave us up as hopeless, sleeping in on Sunday. Accordingly, Monday is day two. However pious we may claim to be, Monday, in the workplace, is seen as day one.

All I know is that Monday began the school week and in the pharmacy it was, by far, the busiest day. It is also the preferred day for suicides, the numbers swelled perhaps by overworked pharmacists.

Tuesday follows, regardless of whether it is the second or third day. It’s what happens when you get through Monday and wake up alive. Tuesday Weld was not the first person to think of the name. Tuesday is another well-worn word having passed through Norse and Germanic hands; our version of Tyr, which is the Old English translation of Mars-day. Suddenly I’m remembering Meatless Tuesday during the good war when we sacrificed together and felt noble about it. It is also our election day which generally means a night of teeth-gnashing and mourning.

Next is the day that Ash Wednesday always falls on. Wednesday positions itself in mid-week with its silent “d” that could stand for double agent, having infiltrated a word for no apparent reason… other than it came down to us from the Anglo-Saxon, Wodon. If you’re still alive by now you are half-way through the week.

Thursday is my favorite day. It feels juicy to me as having had its Thirst-day quenched in my mouth. It comes to us from Jupiter, by Jove, translated as Thor as in thunder. Thursday night was my time to dial up God ….for a few hours, to get me through the Friday tests. My non-belief didn’t keep me from a chat every now and then. I’m told that Thursday is the new Friday (the same way 80 is the new 60) when college kids start partying. No wonder our nation is in steep decline.

We have Good Friday and Black Friday which is even gooder, at least for merchants. I understand that Good Friday is the best day to plant potatoes. I must remember that for my next incarnation. Then there is Friday the 13th which is a bad day to do anything except perhaps to have dinner at TGIF. For those with their heads in the clouds it is somehow connected to Venus. The word itself is again bequeathed from the Norse God, Frigge. One should never do battle with a Norse god particularly on Friday.

Days are named for the planets, which were in turn named for the deities so Saturday belongs to Saturn though it is not necessarily saturnine. In fact it is our reward having gotten through another week. Saturday is Sabbath, for observant Jews, football for orthodox fans and the loneliest night of the week growing up unless you enjoyed a juke-box Saturday night if you were sentient in the
'40's

Finally we come to Sunday and not a minute too soon. I can tell by the weight of the newspaper. Before it was the Lord’s Day, it belonged to pagans who worshipped the sun. Like so many other rites this is another instance of the Church appropriating the day for its own purposes. God rested and ye shall come in your Sunday best and sing praises to his name. And while you are here you might just drop a coin in the cup for the edifice complex.

If I allow myself to regress to childhood, Sunday night was an early bath with Lifebuoy soap and my sailboat, then out in time for radio programs starting with Jack Benny and ending with Fred Allen. However, retirement is a seven day weekend, all days indistinguishable; part of our campaign to ignore the calendar.

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