Monday night football. Throwback Thursdays. Saturday night fever. Every time I hear an expression like these, I want to scream. “Hey! Don’t you guys know that the week is a scam? A hoax? Why on Earth would you use it as a time stamp?”
There are four easily recognizable time periods in our usual calendar: day, week, month and year. And they all have their origins tied to Astronomy. The day relates to Earth’s rotation period; the month, to the lunar cycle; and the year, to Earth’s motion around the Sun. But what about the week?
The week was born from a mistake. It originates from a time where mankind tought there were seven “planets” in the heavens. And the quotation marks are importante here, since some of these “planets” are not planets as we know them nowadays.
Planet is a Greek word meaning “wandering star”. For ancient astronomers, the seven wandering stars were: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Through legend and superstition, an idea was formed: let’s dedicate a day to each one of these planets. And so the week was born, a seven-day time period where each day was related to one of the “planets”.
In some languages, the correlation is obvious. Sunday, the Day of the Sun. Monday, the Day of the Moon. It works well in French, Spanish, German… (Unfortunately, my native Portuguese uses an hebdomadary system that simply counts the days of the week…)
Saturday is the Day of Saturn, Roman equivalent to the Greek Chronos, God of Time. So it feels right to talk about Time in a Saturday. Or write, anyways… And from now on, on every Saturday, you can expect a new piece on the subject, right here at this blog.
Yep. Every week! I can hear myself screaming: “Hey, don’t you know the week is scam?” I do, I promise. See you next week! ■