Issue 114, page 1

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Days of the week... Monday

Yesterday was a national holiday in the United States.  Like most holidays, Presidents' Day was celebrated on a Monday.  In many cases this was because some of the holiness spilled over from a Sunday and the next day became a holy-day, too. That was the case with Easter Monday, Whit Monday and even Saint Monday.  In the 19th century, workmen were said to be keeping Saint Monday if they failed to show up to work due to drunkenness on Sunday.

Handsel Monday, the first after the New Year, had no religious connotation.  On this day, handsels would be given [see Hogmanay].  In this instance handsel means "a small gift which is given as an omen of prosperity" but it has had an interesting history.  Either from Old English handselen "giving into the hands [of another]" or from Old Norse handsal "an agreement sealed with a handshake", it came to mean "a lucky omen" [c. 1200], "an auspicious gift" [14th century], "an initial payment" [c. 1400], "the first taste, experience" [1573].  So, eventually, it became the first taste of a Monday each  year.

Hock-tide was a period of two days beginning the week after Easter Monday, but it wasn't an entirely Christian celebration.  On Hock-Monday, men could chase and bind women who could make a small payment to be released.  On Hock-Tuesday it was the ladies' turn.  Yup!  Sadie Hawkins Day wuz reel.

Some Mondays are the Monday before something.  Next Monday, for instance, is Collop Monday,Bacon, eggs, AND pancakes.  A meal fit for Collop Monday AND Pancake Tuesday! otherwise known as lundi gras  or "Fat Monday".  This is, of course, the day before Shrove Tuesday but it's funny how you never hear about lundi gras in New Orleans, isn't it?  By English tradition, all the collop ("bacon and eggs") in the house were eaten on this day.  As a word, collop has relatives in Swedish kalops and German klops, both dishes made with sliced meat.

Words for Monday

Translated from Babylonian
Sanskrit somavara "day of the moon god"
Tamil tingal


From contact with Mithraism
Ancient Greek Selene  moon goddess
Latin dies lunaes "day of the moon"
Italian lunedi
Spanish lunes
French lundi
Welsh dydd-llun
Irish di-luain


From Mithraism. indirectly, via Teutonic Monandag
German Montag "day of the moon"
English Monday
Dutch Maantag
Swedish Mandag
Modern Icelandic Manudagur


From Christianity
Modern Greek  deftera "second day"
Portuguese Segunda-feira



Russian Poniedielyneek "the day after not working"
Polish Ponedzialek
Czech Pondeli
Bulgarian Ponedelneek

We can but applaud the Slavic perspective.

Then, more prosaically there is...

Chinese li-pai i "of the week, one"
Arabic yomm el itnen "second day"


Hungarian hetfo etymology unknown


How do we know all this stuff?  Why not visit our bookstore and find out?


Copyright 1995-2001 TIERE
Last Updated 03/12/01 06:19 PM