WEEK (AS. mace, visit, Goth. trikd, 011G.
wehlia, Ger. Troche, week; connected with Lat. rives. changes. Gk. cikrin, AS. a•7ran, 0110. .frit kan, Gee. weichen. to yield, Eng. weak ) . A subdivision of the month, usually consisting of seven days. The origin of the week is somewhat obscure, although it may be based on the phases of the moon which are approximately seven days apart. since each quarter of the lunar month exceeds the seven-day week only by three-eighths of a clay. Such was the basis of the Chinese and of the ancient Peruvian week. H. however, the week of seven days came first from Babylonia, as seems on the whole most probable, the number seven may be derived from the sun and moon with the five planets, in the order Ninib (Sat urn), Marduk (Jupiter), Nergal (Mars), Sha mash (Sun). Ishtar (Venus). Natal (Mercury), and Sin (Moon). It is probable that with this astronomical basis, the influence of the wide spread belief in the sacred prime number seven also co3perated. Furthermore, in Babylonia every seventh day of the month was an 'evil' day, on which certain things were taboo, and cer tain offerings were incumbent. The names of the intervening days are unknown, and the date and frequency of celebration of the day shabattu, de voted to the 'contentment of the heart (of the gods),' are also uncertain. Among the Jews, on the other hand, the week of seven days prevailed from the earliest times. There is here no trace of planetary influenee. The names of the He brew 'lays of the week are unknown, althouan from the analogy of the New Testament and Rab binical usage they would seem to have been mint• tiered from the Sabbath, so that 'four after the Sabbath' would be Wednesday. Like the Sem ites, the Egyptians had a week of seven days, and these were named according to the seven planets. Over each hour of the Egyptian day a planet presided, in the order of its distance from the earth according to the geocentric system, thus giving the succession Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury. Moon. If then Saturn pre sides over the first horn- of the first day (Satur day), the twenty-fifth hour will fall to the sun.
the forty-ninth hour to the moon, and so for the rest. From Alexandria this week with its sys tem of nomenclature came to the Greeks and lto nmus. The Greeks had preciously divided each month into three decades, white the had had eight-day periulls, the eight days or nundi nw being primarily market-days and based on the changes of the moon. The week of seven days was not officially adopted, however, until the time of Constantine. in Greece the week hail been introduced by Greek-speaking Jews from Alexandria, in Rome by Chalthean astrologers about the beginning of our era. From Rome this system spread to the Teutonic and Celtic peo ples conquered by the Latins, and the names of the days of the week were translated, so that the Dies Joris (French jcudi, Italian gioredi), 'day of Jupiter,' became the Icelandic pnrsdayr, 'day of Thor,' the English Thursday. From the Greeks the week was imported to India, along with much other astronomical science, so that, since Brihaspati is the Sanskrit name for the planet Jupiter, Brhaspatiriira corresponds to Thursday. In India, however, the week is of little importance. Among the Iranians the month of thirty days was divided into quasi-weeks of 7, 7, S, and 8 days each, although no special sanctity attached to the dividing days. The Islamitic peoples borrowed the week from the Jews, and like them number the days, as do also the Greeks, Slays, Finns, and as did the French revolutionists, instead of naming them like the Latins (except the Portuguese, who retain the ecclesiastical enumeration, as quinta feria, 'fifth day. Thursday'), Teutons, Celts, and Albanians. In the French Revolutionary calendar, officially decreed October 3, 1793, and suppressed Decem ber 31. 1805, the months, of thirty days each, were divided into three decades each, the tenth day of each decade being a holiday. Consult: Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie (2d ed., Ber lin, 1883) ; Roesler, Leber die Vance der Woe/t entage (Vienna, 1865) : Schrader, Reallexikon der indogermanisehen Altertaniskuade (Strass burg, 1901).