Wednesday’s Named for Two Very Different Gods

Woden, Odin

The name Wednesday derives from two mighty but distinct gods. The Old English word for Wednesday indicates that the day was named for the Germanic god Woden. In Romance languages, the name is derived from the Roman god Mercury. (For example, Wednesday is mercredi in French and miercuri in Romanian.) Woden (also known as Odin) and Mercury have  been associated since Scandinavian and Roman cultures crossed paths. Under Woden’s supervision, the earth and sky were created from the dead body of a giant named Ymir. Woden also created the first man and woman from an ash tree and an alder. As if fashioning the human race wasn’t enough, Woden also established the laws of the universe. (The wacky history of Tuesday makes the origin of “Wednesday” seem boring. Read it here.)

Mercury was the messenger to the gods, along with being the patron of science, the arts, travelers and athletes. Today, he is one of the most widely recognized gods. Usually, he’s depicted wearing a winged helmet and sandals.

Starting around 1965, Wednesday began being referred to as “hump day.” Smack dab in the middle of the traditional work week, arriving at Wednesday symbolizes that we’ve made it over the hump and the weekend is in sight.