I was disgruntled to wake up this morning and discover it was raining heavily. My plans for a lovely long walk with my dog, Poppy, were immediately overturned as she doesn’t like the rain at all. “Whoever named this Sunday was an idiot …” I thought as I made my coffee. Of course such stray thoughts are mana to a writer; I immediately wondered where the name came from and that naturally led to a blog post.
It was the Greeks who named the days after the seven planets then known to them and the Egyptians who introduced the concept of a seven-day week. The Romans renamed the days in Latin. We kept both traditions, but the days of the week were renamed by the people of northern Europe – from whom the English language is derived – after their northern European counterparts. Sunday was ‘dies solis’ in Latin; it became Sonntag and then Sunday. So nothing to do with the weather, although I am still tempted to rename it Rainday today.
Writing fantasy is the kind of genre where information like this matters. If you’re setting your story in an imaginary world, sooner or later you’re going to have to come up with names for the days of the week, the months, the feast days and so on. So understanding the roots of where we derived our calendar names and systems from can be helpful. You don’t want to interrupt your storytelling with a long digression about where the name Furbleblog (Thursday…?) came from. So sometimes it’s easier to use something that’s easily identifiable – Moonsday, Winterfest, High Summersday, those kinds of names. Not terribly original perhaps – and more difficult with a name like Tuesday, which is derived from the Norse god Tiw (or Tyr) – but arguably better than confusing your reader enough to jerk them out of your story.
“We must leave by Sunsday at the latest,” Mara insisted. “It’s a four-day ride to Infalc so if we want to get there by Welkinsday, we can’t go any later.” This sentence pretty much establishes that Welkinsday is equivalent to our Wednesday without any explanation needed. Oh, and make sure to note the names you use. There’s nothing more annoying than having to search through a 400-page manuscript trying to find out what you called Hallow’een the last time you mentioned it.