Sunday, December 09, 2012

A very merry 'Seasonal Greeting" or 'Reductio ad absurdum 2'

Surely you mean Merry Christmas?

There are loads of people on Internet who are upset that some people use the phrases 'Happy Holidays' and 'Holiday season trees' instead of 'Happy Christmas' and 'Christmas trees'. Officialdom is making these changes so as not to offend those of other faiths and those who are not religious. Each year we get this but in most cases, it simply isn't true.

BUT if it was true...

Yes - I can see their point BUT we can't stop there. There's an expression 'Reductio ad absurdum' which means following the implications of something to an absurd conclusion. Let's apply a little of this to the days of the week.

How the days got their names

Mithras the sun god

  • Sunday meaning "sun's day", the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It's the same in German: Sonntag and Dutch: zondag. Both meaning 'sun-day'
  • Monday Means Moon-day. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon monandaeg. This second day was sacred to the goddess of the moon. In French: lundi; Italian: lunedi. Spanish: lunes. All from Luna, "Moon". In German: Montag; Dutch: maandag. [both: 'moon-day']
  • Tuesday was named after the Norse god Tyr. The Romans named this day after their war-god Mars: dies Martis This is apparent in French: mardi; Italian: martedi; Spanish: martes.
  • Wodin and Frigg
  • Wednesday was named after Wodan (Odin). The Dutch used the same god to get Woensdag. The Romans called this day 'dies Mercurii', after their god Mercury from which we get French: mercredi; Italian: mercoledi; Spanish: miércoles.
  • Thursday is named after the Norse god Thor. In the Norse languages this day is called Torsdag. The Romans named this day 'dies Jovis' ("Jove's Day"), after Jove or Jupiter, their most important god. This accounts for the French: jeudi; Italian: giovedi; Spanish: jueves.
  • Friday is named in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg which also accounts for the German: Freitag and Dutch: vrijdag. The Romans named this day after the goddess Venus (dies veneris). From this we get French: Vendredi; Italian: Venerdi; Spanish: Viernes.
  • Saturday is from the Latin dies Saturni or "Saturn's Day", by the ancient Romans in honor of Saturn. This also gives us French: Samedi; Italian: Sabato; Spanish: Sábádo; German: Samstag; Dutch: zaterdag.

That means that every day of the week must be renamed so that the days do not offend those of other faiths (including Christian) and those who are non-religious and we can't stop there either:

The months too

  • January is named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings Janus.
  • February comes either from the old-Italian god Februus or else from februa, signifying the festivals of purification celebrated in Rome during this month.
  • March is named after Mars the Roman god of war.
  • April is OK because being in spring it got it's name from the Latin aperire, "to open". Think opening buds. Wait a minute - maybe that would offend those in the southern hemisphere where it would be autumn. Granted that's only 10% of the world population but we believe minorities should be able to dictate to the majority. Right?
  • May gets it's name from Maiesta, the Roman goddess of honor and reverence.
  • June was named in honor of Juno, another Roman goddess who was the wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars.

So that means we have to rename every day of the week and the first six months of the year so that we don't offend. Think of all the diaries and calendars which will need changing. Think of the problems it will give us when we try to remember the new names of the days and months or the problems it will cause our descendants in the future when they look up a date. On balance I think it might be better to stick with what we have and if we are going to do that we might as well stick with Christmas.

So everyone - I'm looking forward to Christmas this year and if you are offended by that then you are welcome to pay for the date changes and have the blame for all the trouble it will cause.

Postscript - I know someone will ask so here's the rest of the months:
July got it's name from Julius Caesar who was born in this month. August was named after the Emperor Augustus. Maybe those ones are OK.
We don't need to worry about September, October, November, December because they come from the Latin for seven, eight, nine and ten. Huh! Shouldn't that be nine, ten, eleven and twelve? No - but that's another story.

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