Thor’s day is no pun at all

Maybe you’ve seen “Thor’s day” in memes starring Chris Hemsworth and accompanying puns like “Let’s get hammered.” Or maybe friends have wished you, “Happy Thor’s Day,” and you thought they were being silly.

Well, they were being silly (they’re your friends, aren’t they?) but also etymologically accurate.

Thor’s day is real.

Thor's hammer on the cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Cover art for the book, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

As real as the Texan law that you can’t sell your eyeballs.

We’re not surprised your parents didn’t tell you this.

Good thing you have us — we know the power of names and are quite careful about safeguarding ours. Days of the week? Days of the solar system, more like it.

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Each day was named for a celestial body. And of those bodies, the planets were named after European gods and goddesses. The first two days, Sunday (for the sun) and Monday (for the moon), don’t hold divine drama like the other five:

  • Tuesday —  for Tīw, a Germanic god of war, similar to Mars whose name then got assigned to the red planet, perceived as bloody and warlike in the ancient world.
  • Wednesday — for Woden or Odin, Thor’s dad, who was equated with Mercury. Yup and then the planet was named after him. See? You’re getting it.
  • Thursday — for Thor, god of thunder, just like Zeus or Jove/Jupiter.
  • Friday — for Frigga, wife of Odin, goddess of love like Venus.
  • Saturday — for Saturn, often remembered for chewing up his kids.

There they are. Fun facts to dispel your next awkward silence. Holiday dinners aren’t that far away.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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Art and magic are no different. But we are.

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March was named for war

You wouldn’t know it by glancing at the calendar though. You have to dive into etymology: March or Martius (Latin) was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. These four weeks of bloodshed were so important to the Romans they made it their first month for a while. Quite an easy thing to do when January and February hadn’t been invented yet. Winter in ancient Rome had no months, pumpkin spice promotions, or sales events. When the snow melted in March, Romans resumed killing, raping, enslaving people in war campaigns.

Three thousand years later, we no longer associate March with invading territories and large-scale human rights violations. We observe other traditions such as International Women’s Day (March 8), Pi Day (March 14), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), March Madness (NCAA Basketball). The ancient god of war? And the planet named after him? They’re not on our minds during these 30 days. We have, in fact, reinvented this month. Some might say that’s magic. Some might say that names change meaning — despite their etymology.

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And we — who are obsessed with names, words, and their power — say that your name doesn’t define you. You were assigned a word to be called. And the way you live is the way that word is spoken and remembered.

Just saying.

— E.K. from Silver Lake, Los Angeles

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“A man in armor” (1655) by Rembrandt

Ξ

Art and magic are no different. But we are.

tamil_om

We wrote the 5 mysteries.

Help bring us to life here.