Where Does “Sunday” Get Its Name From?

Sunday is the first day of the week, and it’s a day of rest before the start of the typical work week in many Western cultures. For some Christians and Catholics, it’s also the designated day for people to attend religious services in their Sunday best.

The English name for Sunday, however, has nothing to do with its importance on the religious calendar.

Whereas Wednesday can be traced back to the preeminent Norse god Odin and Thursday is named after that god’s son Thor, Sunday is named for the ball of gas that lights our days. And, if you look far enough into the day’s origin story, you’ll discover it also involves a chariot-riding goddess who pulls that ball of gas across the sky.

How Sunday got its name

The name for Sunday stems from the Middle English word sunnenday, which itself comes from the Old English word sunnand?g. The English derivations stem from the Latin diēs sōlis (“sun’s day”).

To know why this particular day is devoted to the sun, you have to look to Babylonian times.

The Babylonians were the first to start the seven-day week, and they brought it to the Latin-speaking Romans, who named each day after a god. Germanic and Nordic people did the same, but replaced the Roman gods with their own corresponding gods.

The similarities between the two can be seen today for every day but Sunday. With Christianity, Latin-derived Romance languages changed the dedication from “sun’s day” to “lord’s day” (domingo in Spanish, dimanche in French, and domenica in Italian). “Sun’s day” stuck, however, in the languages that would become modern English.

The sun, and therefore Sunday, had a corresponding god, just like the other days of the week. In Germanic pre-Christian religions, the sun was represented by a woman named Sol who rode a chariot carrying the sun across the sky. Her brother, Mani, carried the moon in a similar fashion, and you can probably guess which day of the week he’s the inspiration for.

The sun-carrying Sol is a much more enjoyable topic to think about than the dreaded “Sunday scaries” as every weekend comes to a close.

WATCH: Where Did The Days Of The Week Get Their Names?

 

We’re not sure what’s worse: Sunday night or Monday morning. But here’s something to look forward to on Mondays: learning the origin story of the name Monday.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

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