The Days of the Week – Illustration
By Hans Christian Andersen (1872)
The Days of the Week once resolved to get free from work, meet together, and have a social party. Every day, however, was so occupied, that all the year round they had no free time at their disposal ; they must have a whole day to themselves, and this they really had every fourth year, the day that is put into February to keep the reckoning of time correct.
On that day therefore they decided to have their meeting ; and as Shrove Tuesday falls in February, they would come in carnival dress, each according to his taste and usual character ; they would eat well, drink well, make speeches, and say pleasant and unpleasant things to each other in the most unconstrained good fellowship. The heroes of old times, when at their meals, threw at each other’s heads the bones from which they had gnawed the beef, but the Days of the Week would overwhelm each other with showers of wit and satire all in innocent Shrove Tuesday merry-making.
So the extra day came, and they all met together.
Sunday, the leader of the days, appeared in a black silk gown ; pious people would have supposed that he was dressed as a clergyman about to go to .church, but the children of the world saw that he was in domino in order to go and enjoy himself, and that the blushing carnation he had in his button-hole was the little red lantern at the theatre, which announced ‘ All tickets sold ; see that you enjoy yourselves.
Monday, a young fellow, a relative of Sunday and especially given to enjoyment, came next. He left the workshop, he said, when the guard-parade took place. ‘ I must go out and hear Offenbach’s music. It does not affect my head nor my heart, but it tickles the muscles of my legs. I must dance and enjoy myself, get a black eye, and begin work again next day. I am the new-moon of the week.’
Tuesday takes its name from Tiw, the old god of strength and power. ‘ Yes, I am the day of that,’ said Tuesday. 1 1 set to work, fasten the wings of Mercury to the boots of the merchant, and see whether the factory wheels are oiled and spinning properly ; I insist that the tailor shall be on his board and the paviour on the street. Let each attend to his own work : I keep an eye on the whole.’
‘Now I come,’ said Wednesday. ‘ I stand in the middle of the week. The Germans call me Mr. Midweek. I stand like the shopman in the shop, like a flower in the midst of all the other respected days of the week. If we all march together, I have three days before and three behind, like a guard of honour. I must suppose that I am the most distinguished day in the week.’
Thursday came dressed as a coppersmith with a hammer and a copper kettle ; these were the marks of his nobility. ‘ I am of the highest birth,’ he said, ‘ heathen and divine. In the northern lands I am named after Thor, and in the southern after Jupiter, who both knew how to thunder and lighten. That has remained in the family.’ And then he beat on the copper kettle and demonstrated his high birth.
Friday was dressed like a young girl, and called herself Freia, and by way of change also Venus ; it depended on the language of the country in which she appeared. She was usually of a quiet happy nature, she said, but to-day she was dashing and free, for it was leap-year’s day, and that brings freedom to woman ; by old custom she may then woo for herself, and need not wait to be wooed.
Saturday appeared as an old housekeeper with broom and cleaning -things. Her favourite dish was a broth made of the week’s bread-crusts, but she did not demand that on this festive occasion it should be set on the table for all of them, but only that she herself might have it ; and she got it.
And so the Days of the Week took their places at the table.
Here they are now described, all the seven, ready for use in tableaux for the family circle. In these they might be presented in the most amusing manner possible ; we give them here only as a playful jest for February, the only month that gets an extra day given to it.