Christian culture? Nope.
Sometimes you stumble upon this really stupid argument that we are living in a ‘Christian Culture’. This argument is supposed to shut up anyone who dares to criticize how Christians tend to fuck up the world. Or co-fuck up, to be fair. But it is utterly, idiotically, staggeringly wrong, and to top that – demonstrably so.
The western civilization as we know it today certainly derives a lot of it’s content from Christianity. But – Christianity was a direct descendant of ancient Greek and Roman (Latin) culture. It despised and rejected it, but after some thousand years of dark ages it finally embraced it’s heritage. And even during those dark ages the Greek and Roman influence was clearly visible.
Nikolai Copernicus didn’t “invent” his heliocentric model of the Solar System – it was proposed long before he was born, in ancient Greece. Galileo was also influenced by ancient writings. Proto-evolutionary theory was first proposed also in an ancient Greece. Ancient Egypt witnessed the proof that the Earth was a sphere. Columbus perfectly knew that when he embarked on his journey to India (which he apparently wasn’t aiming for, but that’s another story). First experiments on electricity were conducted in Greece as well. It was done using a piece of amber, which in Greek is called – electron (As a side note – a quote from wikipedia: The classical name for amber was electrum (ἤλεκτρον ēlektron), connected to a term for the “beaming Sun“, ἠλέκτωρ (ēlektōr). According to the myth, when Phaëton son of Helios (the Sun) was killed, his mourning sisters became poplars, and their tears became the origin of elektron, amber.“)
Greek and Roman cultures in turn inherited a lot from ancient Egypt as well as ancient Babylon culture, which in turn inherited a lot from Sumerian civilization, which in turn inherited a lot from Samara culture, which in turn inherited some of Hassuna culture. Which makes our origins as far as 8 000 years ago – roughly 6000 BC (which is also long before the supposed biblical date of creation of the world). Traces of those cultures still remain today, not only in shells of clay vessels, scraps of bricks and trash in the deserts, but also with names of days (following up below), holidays (Easter, Saturnalia), organs (cloaca), etc. Basically there is probably no field of modern human activity that lacks a reference to some of the ancient cultures we descended from. So claiming we are a Christian nation is as logical and correct as claiming we are here on this world solely thanks to our parents – thus neglecting the role of our grandparents, grandgrandparents and so on.
So lets talk about days then, shall we?
Various languages have various names for days of the week, but a lot of them share some common roots. Surprisingly enough – those roots come from Latin/Greek. How come?
From Old English mōnandæġ (“day of the moon”), from mōna (“moon”) + dæg (“day”), late Proto-Germanic *mēniniz dagaz, a translation of Latin dies lunae. Compare West Frisian moandei, Low German Maandag, Maondag, Dutch maandag, German Montag, Danish mandag. – diēs Lūnae – the day of Luna – the goddess of the moon.
From Middle English Tewesday, from Old English Tīwesdæġ (“Tuesday”), from Proto-Germanic *Tīwas dagaz (“Tuesday”, literally “Tiw’s Day”), from *Tīwaz (“Tyr, god of war”) + *dagaz (“day”). This was a Germanic rendering of Latin dies Martis in interpretatio germanica, itself a translation of Ancient Greek [script?] (Areos hemera) (interpretatio romana). Cognate with Scots Tysday (“Tuesday”), West Frisian tiisdei (“Tuesday”), German dialectal Ziestag (“Tuesday”), Danish tirsdag (“Tuesday”), Swedish tisdag (“Tuesday”). More at Tyr, day. – diēs Mārtis – the day of Mars, the god of war.
From Middle English Wednesdai, Wodnesdei, from Old English wōdnesdæġ (“Wednesday”), from a Germanic (compare Proto-Germanic *Wōdanas dagaz) calque of Latin dies (“day”) Mercurii (“of Mercurii”) and Koine Ancient Greek ἡμέρα (hemera, “day”) Ἕρμου (Hermou, “of Hermes”), via an association of the god Odin (Woden) with Mercury and Hermes – diēs Mercuriī – From diēs (“day”) and Mercurii, genitive of Mercurius (“Mercury”). Latin calque of Koine Greek ἡμέρα Ἕρμου heméra Hérmou. The association of the seven week days with the seven classical planets is first attested in the Anthologiarum by Vettius Valens, ca. AD 170 and was known to Cassius Dio by the early 3rd century.
From Middle English, from Old English þursdæġ, þurresdæġ (“Thursday”), possibly from a contraction of Old English þunresdæġ (“Thursday”, literally “Thor‘s day”), but more likely of North Germanic origin, from Old Norse þōrsdagr or Old Danish þūrsdag (“Thursday”); all from Proto-Germanic *Þunras dagaz (“Thor’s day”). Compare West Frisian tongersdei, Low German Dunnersdag, Dutch donderdag, German Donnerstag, Danish torsdag. More at thunder, day. A calque of Latin dies Iovis (dies Jovis), via an association of the god Thor with the Roman god of thunder Jove (Jupiter). – diēs Iovis – From diēs (“day”) and Iovis, genitive of Iuppiter (“Jupiter”).
From Old English frīġedæġ. Compound of frīġe and dæġ “day”, corresponding to late Proto-Germanic *Frijjōz dagaz (“day of Frigg”). Compare West Frisian freed, Low German Freedag, Dutch vrijdag, German Freitag, Danish fredag. Old Norse Frigg (genitive Friggjar), Old Saxon Fri, and Old English Frig are derived from Common Germanic Frijjō. Frigg is cognate with Sanskrit prīyā́ which means “wife.” The root also appears in Old Saxon fri which means “beloved lady”, in Swedish as fria (“to propose for marriage”) and in Icelandic as frjá which means “to love.” A calque of Latin dies Veneris, via an association of the goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess of love Venus – diēs Veneris – From diēs (“day”) and Veneris, genitive of Venus.
From Old English Sæternesdæg (“day of Saturn”), from Sætern (“Saturn”), from Latin Saturnus (“the god of agriculture”), possibly from Etruscan, + Old English dæg (“day”); a translation of Latin dies Saturni. Compare West Frisian saterdei, Low German Saterdag, Dutch zaterdag – dīēs Saturnī – From diēs (“day”) and Saturni, genitive of Saturnus.
From Middle English sunnenday from Old English sunnandæg (“day of the sun”), from sunne (“sun”), + dæg (“day”), late Proto-Germanic *sunnōniz dagaz, as a translation of Latin dies solis; declared the “venerable day of the sun” by Roman Emperor Constantine on March 7, 321 CE. Compare Low German Sünndag, Dutch zondag, West Frisian snein, German Sonntag, Danish søndag. – From diēs (“day”) and solis, genitive of sōl (“sun”).
The only one that doesn’t follow the rule, but it somehow falls within the worship of gods. Sol, the sun, was worshiped probably since the beginning of religion as such. Throughout ages the sun was a giver and taker of life as it governed weather, crops and wellbeing of humans.
So not only we do inherit from ancient Greece and Rome, but the western, americanized world also takes from Germanic, pagan mythologies. And that is only one tiny thing that weekdays naming is.
Our civilization is post-Christian, true. But we’ve only been under Christian influence for about 17 hundreds years (in fact a bit less as secularization of modern states happened a while ago). The influence of other cultures lasted much much longer and was much much more fertile. Given the fact that Christianity
tended tends to squish and suffocate almost all human activities but those related to faith and religion – the scale of the impact it had on development of our societies, while obviously cannot be neglected, is at least questionable. And if anything – this culture is not a Christian culture. This culture harbors so many different deities, gods, goddesses, ghosts, monsters, demons, devils and other superstitions that to declare it ‘Christian’ is outright laughable.
To sum up – it’s kind of a funny thing that Christians, who go around claiming we live in Christian culture, reference and use other, ancient Gods on a daily basis. While it may not fall into ‘having other gods before me’ as this egocentric, selfish and insecure deity of theirs commands in the introduction to their 613 rules codebook, it certainly falls within having them ‘beside’ him. After all – naming your weekdays after other gods and not after YOUR god must be helluva offensive to that petty god. Maybe it’s time for Christians to take the incentive and fix it so that they go along with their scripture and not some pagan myths. Can’t wait to see that.