IN LIFE AS IN THE DANCE : GRACE GLIDES

ON BLISTERED FEET.
---Alice Abrams

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Manic Monday - Seven

( I really wanted to write about the "Chicago 7," but in order to do a good job, it would have to be quite lengthy. If any of you are interested in the subject, just give a google! The summer of 1968 changed so much about America.)


~~~THE SEVEN DAY WEEK ~~~

Next to the day, the week is the most important calendric unit in our life. And yet, there is no astronomical significance to the week. Nothing cosmic happens in the heavens in seven days. How, then, did the week come to assume such importance?

The first thing to understand is that a week is not necessarily seven days. In pre-literate societies weeks of 4 to 10 days were observed; those weeks were typically the interval from one market day to the next. Four to 10 days gave farmers enough time to accumulate and transport goods to sell. (The one week that was almost always avoided was the 7-day week -- it was considered unlucky!) The 7-day week was introduced in Rome (where ides, nones, and calends were the vogue) in the first century A.D. by Persian astrology fanatics, not by Christians or Jews. The idea was that there would be a day for the five known planets, plus the sun and the moon, making seven; this was an ancient West Asian idea.

However, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire in the time of Constantine (c. 325 A.D.), the familiar Hebrew-Christian week of 7 days, beginning on Sunday, became conflated with the pagan week and took its place in the Julian calendar. Thereafter, it seemed to Christians that the week Rome now observed was seamless with the 7-day week of the Bible -- even though its pagan roots were obvious in the names of the days: Saturn's day, Sun's day, Moon's day. The other days take their equally pagan names in English from a detour into Norse mythology: Tiw's day, Woden's day, Thor's day, and Fria's day.
The amazing thing is that today the 7-day week, which is widely viewed as being Judeo-Christian, even Bible-based, holds sway for civil purposes over the entire world, including countries where Judaism and Christianity are anathema. Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Africans, Japanese, and a hundred others sit down at the U.N. to the tune of a 7-day week, in perfect peace (at least calendrically!). So dear is this succession of 7 days that when the calendar changed from Julian to Gregorian the week was preserved, though not the days of the month: in 1752, in England, Sept. 14 followed Sept. 2 -- but Thursday followed Wednesday, as always. Eleven days disappeared from the calendar -- but not from the week!
---- Vincent Mallette

15 comments:

Gattina said...

Very interesting ! I always thought that seven days were from the 1st Testament because God rested the seventh day and as Jews and Arabs also have the 1st Testament in their religion it seemed logical to me. And now I read a completly different origin. Very interesting are also the different week names !

Reba said...

Great reading... wonderful info. Happy Manic Monday

Imma (Alice) said...

A wonderful post, great info. Lots of stuff most of us never knew.

Happy Manic Monday

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

Fascinating! Thank you.

Jamie said...

That was truly informative and interesting. A nice twist on this weeks theme. For those looking for a way to conserve energy, you might check when "market days" occur in your city. Here in Tacoma, it is Thursday when all the local farmers bring their produce downtown.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Awesome job. I love that your MMs are always so informative! :)

Thanks for that tidbit of info, Gracie.

Have an awesome Monday, girlfriend.

Mags said...

That was extremely interesting indeed! Thank you for post it.

Happy MM my friend!

tegdirb92 said...

wow--that was very interesting!! Happy MM.

Sanni said...

While Jersey thinks the most important thing on a seven day week is to get treats for at least 14 times, I thank you for this entertaining and informative post. I´ve learnt a lot, Gracie!

Lizza said...

I enjoyed reading your informative post, and the reference to Norse mythology.

Have a great week!

Comedy + said...

I knew some of this, but not very much. What a wonderful history lesson. Excellent post for seven. Have a great MM Gracie. :)

Mert said...

Very good info, I didn't know any of that! Happy MM!

Linda said...

I love reading posts where I can learn something new and that's exactly what this one was. I had thought that same as Gattina prior to reading this. Thanks, Gracie, for the newfound knowledge!

Travis said...

Excellent post.

Happy MM!

NouveauBlogger said...

Fascinating...I never had really thought about it before.