Thursday, March 12, 2009

By Jove I Think I've Got It!

I Hope everybody had a good Purim (I know mine sort of sucked, but whatever)..

Yes, em, something which, for reasons beyond even myself, I wanted to have been mentioned here: I've recently made somewhat of a discovery in a subject which, though I take great interest in, I'm ashamed to say I haven't done any research in until now. The subject is the names of days in the English language (which should have been elemental knowledge to me long ago, and which, in my opinion, should interest any speaker of the English language, especially those opposed to Pagan references).

I mean, I've always known the names were of the sun, moon, and other mythological gods, but I never understood how all the English names (unlike the names in most every other Romance language) reflected the gods I thought they were named after. Lucky for me, my jolly old friend Wikipedia was in the neighborhood, and I happened upon him with some questions, which he happily obliged to answer.

As a preface, I wish to express my wonder at a certain religious phenomenon around the world, which I've pondered about long ago: There are certain religious notions that were common to people the world over, even if they developed in different, isolated parts of the globe. The entire world was once unified by polytheism. The religions of the Americas were very similar to those in Asia, as to those in Africa, Australia and Europe. There have always been similar notions of gods and heaven and hell and many such ideas, in every place. How could it be that they all came to such similar conclusions about things? Startling in my opinion.. Nonetheless, this fact was more true in Eurasia than anywhere else. The Greeks and the Romans shared the exact same gods as the Sumerians and Babylonians. (This is actually one of a few good examples of why it's important to know about Greek/Roman mythology/religion. You've gotta know Ares=Mars, Zeus=Jupiter, Aphrodite=Venus, etc.).

Another important point is that, based on their Astrological knowledge, early civilizations created some sort of "planetary clock" that determined which planet/god (they associated moving heavenly bodies with planets) was associated with which day. The funny thing is that the Romans used numbered days for the week, and it was the early Roman-Christian authorities who were responsible for reinstituting the Pagan names.

The only question is; very well, Tuesday is Mars, Thursday is Iupiter, etc., but where the hell did all the English names come from? Wednesday doesn't sound anything like Mercurius!

Well, Wikipedia let me in on a little secret (we have a special relationship): In Northern Europe the names (except Saturn) were changed to the Germanic names for those same gods. Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and Friday (the odd names) are named after Tyr, Woden, Thor and Frige. (Come to think of it, this actually connects with Purim; Marduk and Ishtar (Mordecai and Esther) are Babylonian for Jupiter and Venus!).

As far as I'm concerned the main lesson of this is similar to the main lesson of most things for me; Anti-"Ashkenazi-ism"! It has been the practice of the Eastern-European Ultra-Orthodox establishment to preserve Yiddish as a spoken language, and at times, in fact choosing to speak it over English and even Hebrew! To me this is one more reason why it's "wrong to speak Yiddish"; it's proponents say that the language is "distinctly Jewish", and yet when it comes to the days of the week, instead of adopting the numbered ("countdown to Shabbat") Hebrew names, they instead insist on continuing to use the same Pagan Teutonic names that are used by the non-Jews in Germany. G-d help them! And G-d strengthen those who speak His Holy Tongue!

(Umm, by the way, "Jove" is another name for Jupiter).

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