Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The days of the week

For the native speakers of numerous languages spoken in Europe, the name of the days in Norwegian might not be that surprising. The days of the week (ukedager) conserve the old Norse mythology, the religion of Germanic tribes before christianity.
First, the grammatical pattern for the days: (på) mandag – on Monday (can work both with and wothout ), mandager – every Monday. And now let's look at the list:
Mandag: Monday. The day of the moon (måne).
Tirsdag: Tuesday. The day of Tyr. He was the son of Odin and the god of victory in combats.
Onsdag: Wednesday. The day of Odin (also: Wotan) who is the main god in the Norse mythology. He had an eight-legged-horse called Sleipnir who was able to go around the world in just eight steps. Some years ago, I was lucky enough to visit one of the footprints of this remarkable horse: Ásbyrgi, the magnificent canyon in Northern Iceland that recalls a huge horseshoe with its form. Anyways, back to the weekdays: it's quite interesting that for exemple in German and in Icelandic, Wednesday is simply called 'the middle of the week' (Mittwoch and Miðvikudagur). I do not know why, a possible answer might be that Germans and Icelanders were simply too afraid to pronounce the name of the great Odin.
Torsdag: Thursday. The day of Tor, the son of Odin. Tor is the god responsable for the weather. He was imagined as a god with a hammer that he threw down to the earth when he was angry. Eventhough the hammer always came back to him, it created a thunderstorm with lightnings on the earth. That's the reason why Norwegians say if there is a thunderstorm: Det tordner. Just like in German: 'Donnerstag' and 'es donnert'. The name Tor and its female version Torunn are still very popular in Scandinavia.
Fredag: Friday. The day of Freya. She is the only goddess that was eternalised in the days of the week and is associated with love, flowers, beuty. She travels through the sky on a chariot driven by her two cats. Both in Iceland (Freyja) and in Norway (Freja) you can find a brand producing sweets and chocolate attracting people with the name of this goddess. (And both barnds are absolutely worth trying...) Pay attention: don't get confused – fridag means 'day off'.

Freya, the Beautiful with her cat

Lørdag: Saturday. The day when people washed themselves and their clothes.
Søndag: Sunday. The day of the sun (sol).
Helg is the Norwegian word for weekend. It means 'holy' and in Norway, weekends are holy: all the biggest shops are closed. My advice: when in Norway, do as the Norwegians do... forget about the stress of the everydays and go out into the nature with your friends and family in the weekends. I think it's actually wise to do anywhere...
And finally, here is a nursery rhyme in Norwegian, translated from English (Monday's child):

Mandagsbarn får vakre øyne
Tirsdagsbarn blir lett på tå
Onsdagsbarn får perletårer
Torsdagsbarn får langt å gå
Fredagsbarn gjør alle glade
Lørdagsbarn blir sjelden trett
Søndagsbarn får den største gaven, alle dyder under ett.

1 comment:

  1. Nice little article. I was born on a Sunday :)