Hello, my dear student!
Today I would like to continue our topic on days of the week in Russian. In the last article we talked about all days: weekdays as well as weekend. Now let's analyze, why do they have such names?
Воскресенье [Vaskrisen'e] – sunday
In ancient times in Rus' (Русь – an ancient name of Russia) a week was called "седмица" [sidmitsa] which derives from the word "семь" [sem'] (seven). But the name "неделя" [nidelya] (a week) was only referred to one day – modern Воскресенье (Sunday) because on this day it was accepted to do nothing (ничего НЕ ДЕЛать [nichivo NI DELat']) - that's why the word "НЕДЕЛя" (NIDELya] was derived from this verb. Only after Rus' had converted to Christianity and people had begun celebrating Easter, it was decided to call this day "воскресенье" [vaskrisen'e] (Sunday) which literally means "to create, call into existence".
Понедельник [Panidel'nik] - Monday
Вторник [Ftornik] – Tuesday
As we begun counting from Sunday, the first day after the day of "doing nothing" was modern "понедельник" [panidel'nik] (Monday). The second day after воскресенья [vaskrisen'ya] (Sunday, "ничего не делания" [nichevo ni delan'ya] – "doing nothing") was "вторник" [ftornik] (Tuesday).This word derives from the Old Slavic word and means "второй" [ftoroy] (the second), that is why it is called – вторник.
Среда [Srida] – Wednesday
Среда (Wednesday) has such name because it is the day in the middle of a weekday, and the Old Slavic word is "середина" [siridina] (middle) or "сердце" [sertse] (heart), so was created the name - среда.
Четверг [Chitverg] - Thursday
Пятница [Pyatnitsa] – Friday
Четверг и пятница (Thursday and Friday) are considered to be the forth and the fifth days after "ничего не делания" (Sunday), that's why it derives from the words "четыре" [chityri] (four) and "пять" [p'at'] (five). You can see the same root in these words and names.
Суббота [Subota] – Saturday
The name "суббота" is not logically created, it belongs to ancient times and resembles the name of this day in most other languages. "Суббота" (Saturday) derives from the word "шаббат" (sabbath) that means "покой" [pakoj] (rest) in Hebrew.
One can get to know such interesting things when they learn days of the week in Russian. I hope, this knowledge will help you to memorize all these names better, and when somebody mentions them, you will quickly associate them with proper days of the week.