The History of Hump Day

It’s Hump day! We have made it to the middle of the week, the top of the proverbial work week hill and it is should be an easy ride to Friday and our beloved weekend. However,  as someone who loves language and loves history I find myself wondering when and why Wednesday became known as “Hump Day”.  Are you like me, asking this same question? If you are, read on and if not, perhaps I have piqued your interest a little, the curiosity within you has swelled to such a size that you must have relief. Then rest assure, ooh curious one, I shall not let you down.

Let’s begin by looking at the definition supplied by Urban Dictionary for “Hump Day”:

“The middle of a work week (Wednesday); used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week.”

OR

Oxford Dictionaries says that, “Wednesday, regarded as the midpoint of a typical working week: it’s hump day and perhaps the toughest day of the week for you. Wednesday is hump day, Thursday is the unofficial beginning of the weekend.”

There have been rumours, and that is all they are, that hump day implies something more than arriving at the middle of  work week (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But this, my curious HFA reader, is a fallacy. Please, hold back your tears (or your applause depending on the camp you side with).  However, Wednesday does carry the stain of being the “toughest day”.

Apparently, the term “hump day” began in 1965 when, allegedly, Roy Mann coined the phrase while standing around the water cooler at a Dupont plant. Then, in 1975, JJ Cale wrote a song called, “Friday”  where the lyrics “Wednesday’s hump day, hump day’s Wednesday/Over the hump, the week’s half-gone/If I had my pay on Wednesday I’d hang out, the hump day’s gone.” Take a listen here:

But…Wednesday and its “persona” dates further back than this.

Wednesday’s ” name is a calque  of the Latin dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”, reflecting the fact that the Germanic god Woden” (wikipedia.com). Woden was the chief Teutonic god, the All-Father. His name translates to “raging, mad, inspired”.  Makes you wonder if this Teutonic god’s “attitude” has truly affected us in a genuine and real way. Is Wednesday a mad day? A raging day? A crazy day? A day lacking in inspiration? I know I have had a few Wednesdays that feel like this. How about you?

In the an old folk rhyme by Mother Goose (circa 1838), when reciting the days of the week, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”. And in the fictional family, The Addams Family (1938), Wednesday Friday Addams name is derived from the idea that Wednesday’s child is full of woe. In my children’s favorite childhood book, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, the disagreeable nature of the weather is attributed to it being “Winds-Day” (a play on “Wednesday”).  And lastly, but I am sure not the final example, is from John Steinbeck’s  1945 novel, Sweet Thursday, the titular day is preceded by “Lousy Wednesday”.

As you can see Wednesday is a tough day to be born on, go for a walk on and is a tough day for no other reason that it is Wednesday. But does Wednesday deserve this reputation? Psychology would argue that because of Wednesday’s position in the Days of the Week family, this middle child holds the peacemaking position. And indeed Wednesday does. Her job is to smoother over the anger or grief that Monday and Tuesday brings with the start of the work week and the end of the weekend, while trying to restrain Thursday and Friday’s “throw caution to the wind” and “full speed ahead” attitude that rushes them into the weekend with little care for anything else.  Wednesday is like the old fashion teeter-totters in the playground trying to balance everyone so no one drops to the ground. A tough role for Wednesday to complete, cheerfully, wouldn’t you agree?

Is there anything redeeming about Wednesday, other than its Hump day? Well, HFA reader if you are a Wednesday’s child you are in good company. I believe you, like the following individuals, disproves Wednesday woeful, lousy, blustering place in our week. Notable Wednesday children include  U.S. Presidents and celebrities such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes and Canadian comedian/actor Jim Carey.

And in my humble estimation, my not-researched-purely-a-gut-feeling guess, Geico’s commercial helped to firmly forge a place for Hump day into our daily speech.

Do you have more you could add to the History of Hump Day? Please do so by commenting below.

Do you have funny, crazy, Wind-Day story you’d like to share, please do! I would love to hear your story!

Until Next Time….Happy Hump Day!

 

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