My recent post titles seem quite revolutionary: first we resisted the Oscars; now we’re–what? Boycotting everyone’s favorite day of the week? Not exactly. I don’t have a problem with the day itself, but with its name. Here’s why: Saturday is the only weekday named after a Roman deity (Saturn). English is a Germanic language, doggone it. We don’t need any of that Latin crap.
As a review, our other days are named after, respectively, the sun, the moon (note that these are good Anglo-Saxon words–we don’t say Solisday or Lunaday), Tyr (Norse god of war), Woden (the German version of the more familiar Norse god Odin All-Father), Thor (sexy god of thunder), and Freya (goddess of love and beauty and also dead people slain in battle). In other words, the English names of the first six days of the week make you want to go read the Elder Edda while listening to Led Zeppelin.
And then we get to Saturday, which is named after…the depressing Roman god of winter and old age and irony? (To prove my point, if you don’t know what the word saturnine means, look it up; it’ll make you want to lie in bed all next Saturday, even if you don’t normally do that.) That’s lame. I think we need to have a good Northern name for the final day of our week. I’m sitting here with a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. She clearly favors the Greeks and Romans (Norse mythology gets 15 measly pages), but at least her cursory summary will help refresh my memory. Here are some replacement names I would like to propose.
Baldersday. I’m actually surprised there isn’t a day named after Balder. He’s the Christ figure in Norse mythology. Balder was killed with mistletoe, but according to Wikipedia the all-wise, “after Ragnarök [the Norse Armageddon; cf. Led Zeppelin]. . . he and his brother Höðr would be reconciled and rule the new earth together with Thor’s sons” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldr). Baldersday would be a fitting name to mark the dying of the old week and the imminent rise of the new one, like the phoenix from the ashes. But the phoenix is Greek, so never mind.
Valkyriesday. Cue the Wagner music. You know the Valkyries–they’re the “maidens” (Hamilton’s quaint word) who show up after battles and get to pick which warriors they want to take to Valhalla. On second thought, this might not be a good choice. The day formerly know as Saturday could become very dangerous.
Lokisday. Speaking of dangerous. You saw what Loki tried to do to our planet in The Avengers. He’s also the one who killed Balder with mistletoe.* Loki is a shape-shifter and the closest thing Asgard has to a trickster deity (the Norse were a little too serious for an all-out joker), so at least we could say that the last day of the week would be…er…exciting, and a little more unpredictable than Valkyriesday. On Valkyriesday, you would definitely die and might or might not get to go to Valhalla. On Lokisday, you might die. But you might not.
Heimdallsday. Heimdall is the guy Thor yelled at to “open the Bifrost,” remember? (All I could think of during that scene was “Beam me up, Scottie.”) But his name is way too unwieldy (that’s a good Anglo-Saxon word) for a day of the week, so forget it.
I haven’t suggested Freyrsday or Friggasday because those would be too similar to Friday. (Actually, according to Hamilton, some people think Friday was named after Frigga, Odin’s wife, rather than Freya; either way, it’s named after a goddess. Go women!) I hope it’s apparent that this is all tongue-in-cheek; I’m really not one of those would-be purifiers of the English language. I just watched Thor over the weekend and am getting ready to teach a lesson on words derived from mythology in my Advanced Reading and Vocabulary Development class. But seriously, think about it this coming Saturday.
*Actually, Loki didn’t do the dirty work himself; he got this blind guy named Hoder to throw the mistletoe at Balder. Typical.