Posted by: Jack Henry | August 18, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Tiu’s Day

Hello! I’m back with the next day of the week in our series: Tuesday. For the rest of the days, I’ll just put my handy-dandy chart with all of the translations at the end of each email. In today’s chart, I swapped Greek for Ancient Greek, and I added a column for Roman, since our history gets into the changes of the seven-day calendar. I removed Portuguese because it’s current days don’t follow the pattern of the other romance languages.

As we learned in previous blogs, the seven-day calendar started with the Babylonians. The ancient Greeks adopted that calendar, and then the Romans came along. All three groups started their weeks with Sunday (the day of the sun) and Monday (the day of the moon), but this is where they diverged. Having seven days total, the Babylonians decided to name the other five days after the five planets they could see from earth: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

The ancient Greeks came along later (around the 12th Century BC) and named the extra five days after five of their gods:

  • Tuesday: Ares, the god of war
  • Wednesday: Hermes, the messenger god, trickster, and god of commerce
  • Thursday: Zeus, the god of the sky, thunder, and king of the other gods, oh yes—and king of people
  • Friday: Aphrodite, the goddess of love
  • Saturday: Kronos, the son of the creators of the universe; father of time

As the Roman Empire emerged in the First Century BC, they also adopted the seven-day calendar and like the Greeks, they named the five additional days of the week after their own gods.

  • Tuesday: Martis, god of war
  • Wednesday: Mercurii, messenger god
  • Thursday: Jovis (Jove, Jupiter), god of sky, thunder, etc.
  • Friday: Veneris (Venus), goddess of love
  • Saturday: The Romans moved away from the Greeks here and “named Saturday after Saturn, father of Jupiter, god of agriculture, and namesake to the Saturnalia festival, a celebration in which masters and slaves traded places for a few wonderful days.” (Grammar Girl)

Now, for a little history of the word Tuesday itself, from

The first records of the word Tuesday come from before 1050. It comes from the Middle English tewesday, from the Old English Tīwes daeg, meaning “Tiu‘s day.” This is a translation of (or is modeled on) the Latin term diēs Mārtis, meaning “Mars’s day.” In Old English, the Roman god of war Mars was subbed out in favor of Tiu, the war god of Anglo-Saxon mythology (equivalent to the Norse god Tyr).

Tuesday is usually thought to be much less exciting than you might expect it to be for a day named after a god of war. Except of course for the most anticipated of all days: Taco Tuesday.

In years of U.S. presidential elections, many states hold the primary vote on the same day in March (or sometimes February), known as Super Tuesday.

In U.S. history, Tuesday, October 29, 1929, is known as Black Tuesday, the day of a stock market crash that is often thought of as the start of the Great Depression.

Hopefully, you can start to see how the days of the week have evolved, and romance languages of today still maintain their history from Rome (or Latin).

English Ancient Greek Roman Spanish French Italian Romanian
Sunday Day of the sun

(hemera helio)

Day of the sun

(dies Solis)

Domingo Dimanche Domenica Duminică
Monday Day of the moon

(hemera selenes)

Day of the moon

(dies Lunae)

Lunes Lundi Lunedi Luni
Tuesday Ares, war god Martis, war god Martes Mardi Martedì Marţi
Wednesday Hermes, messenger god Mercurii, messenger god Miércoles Mercredi Mercoledì Miercuri
Thursday Zeus, god of sky/thunder Jovis (Jove/Jupiter), sky and thunder god Jueves Jeudi Giovedì Joi
Friday Aphrodite, love goddess Veneris (Venus), love goddess Viernes Vendredit Venerdì Vineri
Kronos, time god
Saturn, father of Jupiter Sábado Samedi Sabato Sâmbătă

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | (619) 542-6773 |

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