Today was a good day
The title of the article refers to Tuesday being traditionally good (Judaism, the parashah for today mentions twice: it was good) and bad (Greek culture, fall of Constantinople). Tuesday might be especially unlucky1 (for Greek and Spanish speaking people) if it falls on the 13th of the month. Did the anglo-saxon world moved that to Friday? I’m all ears about the comments of my native colleagues.
And, same is the title of a song from Ice Cube, which has little to do with this text. If you like 90s West Coast Rap, it’s a good choice.
When looking into the etymology of the name of today, I have found something peculiar, but let’s take one step at a time.
Tuesday derives from Old English Tiwesdæg, which meant Tiw’s Day. Tiw, Týr (in Norse mythology), or *Tîwaz (in Proto-Germanic) is the god of single combat, as well as law and justice. He is known for sacrificing his right hand to the giant wolf Fenrir, while the gods tie the beast down to lie until Ragnarök. When that happens, the Germanic equivalent of Ares is to be consumed by yet another monster, Garmr. Why the comparison? Germanic tribes identified their gods with those of the Romans in the process of interpretatio germanica. Mars is the Roman god of war (and guardian of agriculture; once you conquer the land, you need to do something with it). By means of interpretatio graeca the good people of the Roman Empire once already found the depiction of their pantheon in Greek mythology. The Latin name dies Martis, day of Mars, corresponds to the Ancient Greek hēméra Áreōs, day of Ares. In most Romance languages, except Portugese (Terça-feira, Third Day), this tradition is followed until present-day.
In modern Greece, today is called Τρίτη, Tríti (deriving from trítos, third).
It must be stated, that these alignments of different belief systems might not represent the actual similarities, or differences, between deities.
Same planet, other places
Some Slavic languages, like Bulgarian and Russian, derive the term directly from the Old Church Slavonic word въторъ, the second.
The Basque word astearte means week-between..
Both in Korean and Japanese culture, today is named after the red planet; the kanji means day of fire.
The sanskrit word, Maṅgalavāsaraḥ, comes from Mangala, the name of the god of war, and planet Mars. Many Indo-Aryan languages use a term sourcing from the same root.
Some variations of the Nahuatl (Mexicano) language are still spoken by roughly 1.7 million Nahua peoples, living mainly in Central Mexico. The Mexicas or Aztecs of Tenochtitlan named today after the god of war and sun, and human sacrifice, Huitzilopochtli.
In Hungary today was kedd; the root of the word is kettedik, meaning second.
And if it wasn’t enough for a day, I would like to quote a sentence from wikipedia:
‘The German Dienstag and Dutch dinsdag are derived from the Germanic custom of the thing, as Tiw/Týr also had a strong connection to the thing.’
I did mention something peculiar before, didn’t I?
Turns out, that the English word thing derives from, hold on, the Proto-Germanic *þingą, meaning:
- appointed time; date; appointment
- meeting; assembly, council
- case, matter, issue (such as what is discussed at an assembly)
Allow me to round this up with one more quote, from wiktionary:
‘In most languages this word came to be used for objects in general. This is similar to the development of *sakō and also Latin rēs and causa (in Romance languages).’
Tomorrow is called, by many (including me), the middle of the week.
The third day of a seven day week.
I hope you also had a good day today.