Tag Archives: justinian

Week Days

Well, it’s Friday. But why is it called Friday? How were the days of the week for the English speaking world named, and who named them?  The short answer is that five thousand years ago the Sumerians did not have telescopes.  The longer answer is that without telescopes Sumerian astronomers could see no farther than Saturn with the naked eye, and to the Sumerians the seven points of light moving against the background of the unmoving stars were gods.  The Sumerians prayed to these seven gods, each on his own day, giving rise to the custom of a seven day block of time, with the eighth day reverting to god number one, the ninth day to god number two, and so on.  This practice moved north through Mesopotamia, eventually reaching Greece and Rome, who of course named the days after their own gods.  In the fifth century AD the Emperor Justinian, in an attempt to rescue the Western empire from the barbarians, called the last of the Legions home from Britain, whereupon the Pope, desirous of converting the heathen Norwegians living in the English midlands, as they do to this day, instructed his envoys to give the Norsemen whatever they wanted so long as they converted to Christianity.  Curiously, all the Norsemen wanted was a small remembrance of their gods.  Verse-afire has come into possession of a transcript of that meeting, and the following is how it all went down:



We shall embrace your Christian god

The Norsemen said at once

And hope you do not think it odd

That we accept your months

But must insist that we may name

The days after our own

That you may not return in shame

To fail the papal throne

Your Roman gods have seen their times

Of triumph and despair

But northern gods for northern climes

Is what we think is fair

The god that’s known to you as Sol

To us his name is Sun

So with permission we shall call

The Sun’s day number one

The goddess Luna as you know

Is she we know as Moon

So Moon’s day will come next and so

We’ll all be Christians soon

Now Mercury is surely swift

But Tew is just as fast

So Tew’s day is our little gift

To those who prize the past

Now Wodin must take pride of place

At midweek just because

On Wodin’s day we all must face

The fact that he is boss

And Thor’s day we cannot forget

The man known as The Hammer

A man of princely pride, and yet

Embarrassed by his stammer

The goddess Freya brings us to

The ending of our story

For Freya’s day will see us through

The week of Christian glory

But there are seven days, not six

The papal envoys cried

Another god, you’ve many picks

Including those who’ve died

Or you can use a god of ours

The one we know as Saturn

His countenance we know doth sours

The righteous and the slattern

The Norsemen said your Roman guy

Is not unto our liking

But Saturn’s day, we’re eye to eye

We’ll just make him a Viking

The envoys left, returned to Rome

The Norsemen kept their bargain

But in the dark and safe at home

My heart and soul does hearken

To olden days and olden gods

When strong men strode the earth

And men would fight against the odds

For god and wife and hearth


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