Why use a 12-Month Calendar?

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Ghostbear
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Re: Why use a 12-Month Calendar?

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:34 am UTC

Proginoskes wrote:
Drax wrote:I've always wondered why Sept- through Dec- ember were named as such, instead of being named after deities.


January and February were later additions. "September" means "seventh month", "October" means "eight month", etc. December was until the proper day for March 1. "July" and "August" were named after two Ceasers (Julius and Augustus).

What I've always wondered about is how (some of) the days of the week ended up being named after Teutonic deities: Tiew, Woden, Thor, and Freya?

July and August were originally Quintilis and Sextilis- fifth and sixth month, respectively.

With respect to the days of the week, those were just name shifts from Roman deities to the equivalent (or closest approximation thereof) Norse deity. Saturday is actually the only day of the week that, in English, retains its Roman deity- Saturn. Wednesday is considered the weakest deity link.

Monday : Moon's day : dies lunae (Luna- the moon)
Tuesday : Tyr's day (one of his specialties was combat) : dies Martis (Mars- war)
Wednesday : Wodin / Odin's day (weak link- wiki speculates that he was head of souls) : dies Mercuriī (Mercury- association with souls)
Thursday : Thor's day (lightning / thunder, believed to have usurped Odin as head deity by worship) : dies Jovis (Jupiter- lightning / thunder, also head deity)
Friday : Frigg's day (love / fertility) : dies Veneris (Venus- love / fertility)
Saturday : Saturn's day : dies Saturnī (also Saturn- presumably he wasn't able to be linked to any Norse gods)
Sunday : Sun's day : dies Sōlis (Sol- the sun)

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Proginoskes
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Re: Why use a 12-Month Calendar?

Postby Proginoskes » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:08 am UTC

aldonius understood the spirit of my (unclarified) question: What forces in history made it possible for the days of the week to be named after Teutonic gods?

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aldonius
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Re: Why use a 12-Month Calendar?

Postby aldonius » Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:51 am UTC

As Ghostbear said, name shift among the Germanic tribes. AFAIK, this came from them identifying some Roman and Germanic gods as essentially the same beings. If you think at an Indo-European level, then you can see similarities to some of the Hindu pantheon as well. The Greeks and Romans did essentially the same thing - Greeks to some Egyptian gods, and of course Greek and Roman gods are practically interchangeable. The general term for this is syncretism.

So yeah, same system, localised names, those people (well, some descendants) wind up settling England and day names are one of the Anglo-Saxon things that survived the Norman conquest (note that French day names are still Roman).

Funnily enough, in Germany nowadays Wednesday is Mittwoch, ie 'Mid-week'.

Ghostbear
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Re: Why use a 12-Month Calendar?

Postby Ghostbear » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

Proginoskes wrote:aldonius understood the spirit of my (unclarified) question: What forces in history made it possible for the days of the week to be named after Teutonic gods?

It's worth nothing, beyond what's already stated, that these changes mostly started with the western Germanic people, who had quite a bit of contact with the Romans and Roman successors. The general association of deities being equivalent was used to help integrate cultures that otherwise had little in common.

aldonius wrote:So yeah, same system, localised names, those people (well, some descendants) wind up settling England and day names are one of the Anglo-Saxon things that survived the Norman conquest (note that French day names are still Roman).

Funnily enough, in Germany nowadays Wednesday is Mittwoch, ie 'Mid-week'.

Well, technically Sunday got a Christianized name amongst most of the romance languages, being "the lord's day" or something similar in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, amongst others. Which isn't too far of a switch, since the sun is generally associated with singular deities, but it is a switch all the same.

To go with Mittwoch, the German name for Saturday, Samstag, is also derived from Saturn.

Also, sticking with aldonius' prior post, the celestial body week naming was followed by east Asian cultures (China, Korea and Japan) and Indian cultures as well. It seems the seven day week is common across such disparate cultures is from there being seven celestial bodies (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) that were relatively visible with just the naked eye.

Interestingly, the slavic weeks appear to have avoided this- the Russian weekdays are named after their place in the week (first, second, middle, etc.).


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