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Stories of the Days

The days of the week are as full of story as the months, but they take us away from the sunlit countries of Greece and Rome to the cold and stormy lands of the Northmen. They are really of greater interest to us, because four of these days are named after gods worshiped by the Angles and Saxons. Sunday and Monday are named after the sun and the moon, which have been worshiped from the beginning of time in all lands and by all peoples, but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday remind us of the great gods who reigned in the lands across the North Sea, lands of biting frost and freezing winds. Our ancestors were a brave and hardy race, and not even the dangers of the stormy seas could check their eagerness for adventure, as we know. They were great fighters, and even thought it a disgrace to die what they called a "straw death", that is, to die in their beds of straw instead of on the field of battle. As we should expect, their gods were great fighters too, and many stirring tales are told of the gods and of the great heroes among men. Songs of the gods and their creation of the world, and songs of the deeds of the heroes were composed in very early times by poets and handed down by word of mouth. These songs, known as Eddas and Sagas, were eventually written down, the earliest of them in the thirteenth century. In these poems we find a description of the gods and goddesses of the Northmen and of their enemies the frost giants, an account of the creation of the world, and stories of the adventures that befell both gods and giants. The following chapters contain the stories which are suggested by the names Tiu, Woden, Thor, and Freya, after whom Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are named, while Saturday suggests to us the great day of Ragnarok, the downfall of the gods, when the gods were overthrown by the powers of evil and the earth was destroyed, and new gods and a new earth rose in their place.

Next: Chapter XIV. Sunday--The Day of the Sun