copyright 2001, D. Glenn Arthur Jr.
Last updated 2001-11-14.
Don't want to write out a whole three letters as an abbreviation of the days of the week? Think "H" for Thursday (because 'T' is already taken for Tuesday) looks silly? Consider "Sa" and "Su" dorky-looking? Or do you just like the idea of pretty, concise symbols? Why not take a step backwards in history and revive some older symbols that do the job just fine! These are historical symbols for the days of the week. I actually first ran across them in the 1967 Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary and have been using them for a couple of decades now. I still have to resort to other things when typing, alas, but that's how it goes...
As an added bonus, each of these symbols also has at least two other meanings: a metal, and a "planet" (in the older meaning of the word -- a heavenly body which moves across the sky; until recently, "planet" included the sun and the moon).
Note that in English, some days of the week are named for planets (Sunday, Monday, Saturday) and some are named for Norse gods (Tiw's Day, Wodin's Day, Thor's Day, Freya's Day). In French, the association between days and planets is a little easier to see. Observations about other languages? Drop me a line.
This is also the astrological symbol for the sun and the alchemical symbol for gold (Au). Makes sense, given the colour of the sun and the colour of gold.
This is also the astrological symbol for the moon (MONday = MOONday in English -- LUNdi => LUNE-di in French?) and the alchemical symbol for silver (Ag). Colour again -- silver and moonlight.
This is also the astrologigal symbol for Mars (if you speak French, think MARdi => MARS-di), the alchemical symbol for iron (Fe), and is used in biology to denote 'male'. Iron, of course, is used in making weapons. Mars is the god of war.
This is also the astrological symbol for Mercury (in French again, think MERCREdi), the alchemical symbol for the element mercury (Hg), and is used in biology to denote 'hermaphrodite'. It is the Venus/female symbol with a crescent moon pointing upwards tacked on atop it. The Greek equivalent of the Roman god Mercury is Hermes, from whose name we get part of the word "hermaphrodite". Mercury is a fast-moving planet, and Mercury/Hermes was the gods' messenger. The metal mercury, aka quicksilver, is a liquid at room temperature. Hence "quick silver".
This is also the astrological symbol for Jupiter (in French, "JEUdi" is pretty close to "Jove-day", and Jove is another name for the Roman god Jupiter -- as in the exclamation, "By Jove!"), and the alchemical symbol for tin (Sn).
This is also the astrological symbol for Venus (French: VENdredi), the alchemical symbol for copper (Cu), and is used in biology to denote 'female'. In response to my wondering what the copper/female connection was, a reader sent me the following quote from Dr. Jacob Bronowski, on the television series "The Ascent Of Man" (the episode, "The Hidden Structure"):
...in the symbollism of medicine now, we still use for the female the alchemical sign for copper, that is what is 'soft', Venus; and we use for the male, the alchemical sign for iron, that is, what is 'hard', Mars.
This is also the astrological symbol for Saturn (SATURNday), and the alchemical symbol for lead (Pb).