Odin's Day (A College Essay Responding to the Prompt, "How Do You Feel About Wednesday?")

May 18, 2010
Wednesday. When that word first pops into my mind, I admit that like most people, I think immediately of it as the middle of the school and work week. Wednesday is Hump Day, the crown of the hill and if one can only climb over it, it is an easy roll past Thursday and Friday to the weekend. However, if I think more deeply on the subject, there is much more to Wednesday than simply an obstacle to be overcome. Wednesday is also the bane of every first or second grader learning to spell the days of the week. The pronunciation of the word clearly does not indicate how to spell it, and when practicing for my spelling test, I’m fairly certain that I convinced myself it was spelled “Wensday.” Wednesday is also the name of the beloved Addams Family character, the first day of school at Hinsdale Central after summer break every year, and, most importantly, Odin’s Day.

I have always been fascinated with mythology: Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Welsh. You name it, I love it. I switched from Spanish to Latin for my final year of high school, not only to learn more about the roots of our language, but also to learn more about classical mythology. I have even written poems about Apollo, who is the Greek and Roman god of poetry, among other things. This great enthrallment was brought on by my father, who introduced me to mythology very early and led me to read all sorts of books on the topic, including the fantasy books Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The Jones novel specifically linked days of the week to Norse gods by introducing them on the day that is “theirs.” The god introduced on Wednesday had the pseudonym “Mr. Wedding.” This “Mr. Wedding” is missing an eye and has a talking raven, just like the Norse All-Father, Odin. Much later, I read the Gaiman book, in which the Old Gods like the Zorya and Anansi battle the New Gods of technology and shopping malls. One of the main characters is called “Mr. Wednesday” and also has a glass eye and talking ravens like Odin.

The latter novel is what truly piqued my curiosity and inspired me to look up where the names for the days of the week come from. After finishing the book, I searched online and found out that the English days of the week were all named for Norse gods. According to the website, the etymology of Wednesday comes from Woden’s Day, which is the Anglicized version of Odin. My curiosity still not quenched, I clicked a link and found out that the days of the week are named after gods even in other languages. Miércoles, the word for Wednesday in Spanish, is for Mercury, the Roman messenger god. These discoveries shed a new light upon what was once the mundane cycle through the calendar. No longer do I wake up Wednesday mornings, grumbling to myself that I just need to get through the day. Instead, I pretend that poking my eye while putting on my contacts is like Odin sacrificing his eye for wisdom and imagine that I won’t be late to my classes because my shoes are winged like Mercury’s. This may seem like a strange way to get through the day, but those that question my habits don’t know what I now know: ancient mythologies are woven into everyday life and most people don’t even realize it!

So now, when I am asked how I feel about Wednesday, my mind wanders to thoughts of Odin and Mercury. Something as simple as the days of the week, which I had never really noticed or thought about before, has now become a part of my passion.

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punction This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm
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