Saturday

Today, October 24th is Saturday

Saturday is the day of the week between Friday and Sunday. In most countries nowadays it is considered the sixth day of the week, but in the biblical tradition Saturday was the last – and, simultaneously, the most important - day of the week. Its importance can be still noticed in some languages’ names for Saturday.

Etymology

For the days from Monday to Friday Slavic languages use names connected with the day’s position in the week. Saturday, however, is different. Many languages use the name connected with Sabbath – Judaism's day of rest. In Polish, Czech, Slovak and Slovene Saturday is called “sobota”; in Russian - “суббота, subbota”; in Belarusian and Ukrainian - “субота, subota”; and in German - “Samstag.” Surprisingly, similar names can also be found in non-Slavic languages, such as Italian (“sabato”), Spanish (“sábado”) or French (“samedi"). This means that some Latin-rooted languages have abandoned their tradition of assigning gods and planets to particular days of the week. Saturday, however, still has its own god assigned by the Romans – Saturn. Unusually, there was no equivalent of this god in Germanic languages, which is why they have also adopted names connected with Saturn. It is very obvious in the English name – “Saturday” – but also in Dutch: “zaterdag.” Scandinavian languages have chosen a completely different etymology connected with an old word for bath: “laugr”/”laug.” This is because of the Vikings, who used to have a bath on Saturdays. In Dannish the name is “lørdag"; in Swedish: “lördag"; and in Norwegian: “lørdag" or “laurdag.” The same etymology can also be noticed in the Finnish name “lauantai”, and in Estonian “laupäev.”

Next days

Interesting facts

Saturday in Modern Culture

Since so many languages use the name connected with Sabbath, then it is obvious that this Jewish holiday used to play and still plays an extremely important role. “Shabbat” is indeed given a special status in the Bible. This day was described by many biblical prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel or Nehemiah. It is so important because in the Jewish tradition Sabbath is the last day of the week – the day when God started to rest after six days of creating the world. For this reason, this holy day has to be completely free from any work. There are 39 categories of activities that are prohibited during Sabbath, and some of them are: baking, writing two or more letters, making two loops, or weaving two threads. All Jewish denominations, however, encourage their believers to study and discuss Torah, attend a Synagogue for prayers, spend time with other Jews, or sing special songs for Shabbat meals. Saturday is also important in Eastern Orthodox Church, as the day to commemorate Theotokos (Mother of God) and All Saints. In most countries of the world, on the other hand, Saturday is the sixth day of the week, which means that it is usually the first part of the weekend. Most employees finally have more time to rest, clean up the house or go shopping, and to meet friends or host parties in the evening. Saturday is also the only day when elections can be held in Australia and New Zealand. Many football matches around the world are often played on Saturday, and so is the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Historical Saturdays

Even though Saturdays are usually considered positive, there were some events in the history that are now known as Black Saturdays. The most popular are Black Saturday bushfires – a series of bushfires in Australia in 2009 that had started on Saturday. Other countries, however, had their own “Black Saturdays”. For example, in 1621 in Scotland there was an extremely dark and stormy Saturday – so terrifying, that many people believed it was the beginning of the Armageddon and committed a suicide. Another Black Saturday took place in year 1900, when the Dumbell’s Bank in the Isle of Man had collapsed, which resulted in numerous bankruptcies and poverty. Three years later, during a baseball game between the Boston Bravers and Philadelphia Phillies, the worst disaster in the history of the American sports spectating took place. A section of balcony had collapsed on that unlucky Saturday leaving 12 spectators dead and 232 injured. However, there were also much more positive Saturdays in the history of the world. It may be even said that Saturday was the day when America was discovered – on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus had reached the Bahamas. Another famous man, Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517, had approached the door of the Castle Church in Germany and nailed his 95 revolutionary opinions to it. This Saturday can be considered as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Did you know?

In Sweden children are allowed to eat candies only on Saturday, which is called Saturday Candy. This custom has been implemented in order to limit dental caries, but it also has historical roots. It is connected with Vipeholm experiments in 1945-1955, when mentally challenged people were fed too much sweets in order to help study dental health.