Norwegian words in English: four weekdays
M. Michael Brady
The names in English of four days of the week—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—come from the names of four of the five Æsir, the principal pantheon of gods of Norse mythology.
Tuesday comes from the Old Norse tỳrsdagr, the day of Tyr, the god associated with law and heroic glory. He sometimes is depicted with his right hand missing, as it was bitten off by the Fenris wolf, enraged at being tethered by the Æsir, who feared it threatened Åsgård.
Wednesday comes from the Old Norse Óðensdagr, the day of Odin, the Allfather of the gods and the ruler of Åsgård, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology in which the Æsir live. Odin is associated with wisdom as well as with battle, death, war, and victory. He has many sons, of whom the most famed is Thor.
Thursday comes from the Old Norse þorsdagr, the day of Thor—the hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, oak trees, and sheer strength. He also has a benign side and is associated with the protection of humankind, hallowing, fertility, and healing.
Friday comes from the Old Norse friádagr, the day of Frøya (Freyja), the goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, war, and death. She rules the afterlife field Fόlkvanger that receives half of the warriors who die in battle, the other half going to Allfather Odin’s hall, Valhalla.
No day is named after Baldr, Odin’s son and the fifth of the Æsir. But in the UK there are two villages named after him: Balderton in Nottinghamshire, and Baldersby in Yorkshire.
It also appeared in the Nov. 28, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.