December 08, 2008

No Thor's Day in Boston

I've started reading Stephen Nissenbaum's The Battle for Christmas again. Probably one third of the book covers what Christmas was really like in New England before the industrial revolution. It's a very eye-opening book! Not a lot of sleigh-riding and merrymaking went on back then, but there was some drunken rioting and class warfare.

One interesting factoid I picked up: the New England Puritan's omitted the names of weekdays from their almanacs, since they referred to pagan Germanic gods. For example, Thursday is derived from Thor's Day, Wednesday comes from Woden's Day.

Did they give the days new names, or just leave them blank? I searched the Web for an answer, but only found more mysteries. According to this author, the Puritan almanac makers also omitted the names of months for the same reason. For example, March is named after Mars, and January is named after Janus. No pagan influence allowed!

I'd love to know if they gave months and days new names, but its possible they just assigned numbers instead. Either way, it must have been confusing.

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